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KID  TORY  OF   TT-rE    J 



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VOL.  V. 

POLAND  (1648  c.  E.)  TO  THE  PRESENT  TIME  (1870  c.  E.). 



COPYRIGHT,  1895, 






Condition  of  the  Jews  in  Poland  before  the  Outbreak  of  Per- 
secution— Influence  of  the  Jesuits — Characteristics  of 
Poles  and  Jews — The  Home  of  the  Cossacks — Repression 
of  the  Cossacks  by  the  Government — Jews  appointed  as 
Tax  Farmers — Jurisdiction  of  the  Synods — The  Study  of 
the  Talmud  in  Poland — Hebrew  Literature  in  that  Coun- 
try becomes  entirely  Rabbinical — Character  of  Polish  Ju- 
daism— Jews  and  Cossacks — Chmielnicki — Sufferings  of 
the  Jews  in  Consequence  of  his  Successes — The  Tartar 
Haidamaks — Fearful  Massacres  in  Nemirov,  Tulczyn,  and 
Homel — Prince  Vishnioviecki — Massacres  at  Polonnoie, 
Lemberg,  Narol,  and  in  Other  Towns — John  Casimir— 
Lipmann  Heller  and  Sabbata'i  Cohen — Renewal  of  the 
War  between  Cossacks  and  Poles — Russians  join  Cos- 
sacks in  attacking  the  Jews — Charles  X  of  Sweden — The 
Polish  Fugitives — "  Polonization  "  of  Judaism  .  page  i 

1648 — 1656  c.  E. 



Obstacles  to  the  Resettlement  of  Jews  in  England — Manas- 
seh  ben  Israel — His  Character  and  Attainments — Chris- 
tian Students  of  Jewish  Literature:  Scaliger,  the  Buxtorfs, 
Selden,  and  Vossius — Women  devote  themselves  to  He- 
brew— The  Fifth-Monarchy  Men:  Expectation  of  the  Mil- 
lennium— Enthusiastic  Friends  of  the  Jews — The  Puri- 
tans— Cromwell  and  Holmes — Nicholas'  Protection  of  the 
Jews — "  The  Hope  of  Israel "  -Fresh  Victims  of  the  In- 
quisition— Manasseh  ben  Israel's  Negotiations  with  the 
English  Parliament — He  journeys  to  London,  and  is  gra- 
ciously received  by  Cromwell — A  Council  sits  at  White- 


hall  to  decide  the  Question  of  the  Re-admission  of  the 
Jews Prynne's  anti-Jewish  Work — Controversial  Pam- 
phlets—Manasseh's  "Vindication"  -The  Re-admission 

of  the  Jews  connived  at PaSe  1 8 

1655 — 1657   c.  E. 



Condition  of  Judaism — Complete  Triumph  of  the  Kabbala— 
The  Disciples  of  Isaac  Lurya — Vital  Calabrese,  Abraham 
de    Herrera,    and    Isaiah    Hurwitz — Immanuel    Aboab— 
Uriel  da  Costa;  his  Career  and  Death — Leo  Modena;  his 
Character  and  his  Writings — Deborah  Ascarelli  and  Sarah 
Copia  Sullam,  Jewish  Authoresses — Leo  Modena's  Veiled 
Scepticism — The   Travels   and   Influence   of  Joseph    Del- 
medigo — The  Writings  of  Simone  Luzzatto  .     .   page  51 

1620 —  1660  c.  E. 


Spinoza's  Youth  and  Education — His  Intellectual  Breach 
with  Judaism — Fresh  Martyrs  of  the  Inquisition — The 
Rabbis  and  Spinoza  -  -  Excommunication  —  Spinoza's 
"  Tractate  "  and  "  Ethics  "  —Spinoza's  Writings  Concern- 
ing Judaism — Spinoza's  Contemporaries  in  Amsterdam— 
De  Paz  and  Penso — The  Mystical  Character  of  the  Years 
1648  and  1666 — Sabbatai  Zevi's  Early  Career — The  Jeru- 
salem Community — Sabbatai's  Travels — Nathan  Ghazati 
—Sabbatai  announced  in  Smyrna  as  the  Messiah — Spread 
of  Enthusiastic  Belief  in  the  pseudo-Messiah — Manoel 
Texeira — Ritual  Changes  introduced  by  the  Sabbatians— 
Sabbatai  proceeds  to  Constantinople — Nehemiah  Cohen 
—Sabbatai  Zevi's  Apostasy  to  Islam  and  its  Consequences 
—Continuation  of  the  Sabbatian  Movement — Death  of 
Sabbatai  and  Spinoza — Results  of  the  Sabbatian  Impos- 
ture   PaSe  86 

1656 — 1677  c.  E. 



Jews  under  Mahometan  Rulers — Expulsion  from  Vienna- 
Jews   admitted   by    Elector    Frederick    William    into    the 


Mark  of  Brandenburg — Charge  of  Child-murder  in  Metz 
—Milder  Treatment  of  Jews  throughout  Europe — Chris- 
tian Champions  of  the  Jews:  Jurieu,  Oliger  Pauli,  and 
Moses  Germanus — Predilection  of  Christians  for  the  Study 
of  Jewish  Literature — Richard  Simon — Interest  taken  by 
Charles  XI  in  the  Karaites — Peringer  and  Jacob  Trigland 
—German  Attacks  on  Judaism  by  Wiilfer,  Wagenseil,  and 
Eisenmenger — Circumstances  of  the  Publication  of  Ju- 
daism Unmasked — The  Alenu  Prayer — Surenhuysius, 
Basnage,  Unger,  Wolf,,  and  Toland  ....  page  168 

1669 — 1700  c.  E. 


Low  Condition  of  the  Jews  at  the  End  of  the  Seventeenth 
Century — Representatives   of   Culture:    David    Nieto,   Je- 
huda    Brieli — The    Kabbala — Jewish    Chroniclers — Lopez 
Laguna  translates  the  Psalms  into  Spanish — De  Barrios— 
The  Race  after  Wealth — General  Poverty  of  the  Jews- 
Revival  of  Sabbatianism — Daniel   Israel   Bonafoux,   Car- 
dosa,   Mordecai   of  Eisenstadt,   Jacob   Querido,   and   Be- 
rachya — Sabbatianism    in    Poland — Abraham    Cuenqui— 
Judah     Chassid — Chayim     Malach — Solomon     Ayllon— 
Nehemiah  Chayon — David  Oppenheim's  Famous  Library 
— Chacham  Zevi — The  Controversy  on  Chayon's  Hereti- 
cal Works  in  Amsterdam Page  199 

1700 — 1725   c.  E. 


Poetical  Works  of  Moses  Chayim  Luzzatto — Luzzatto  en- 
snared in  the  Kabbala — His  Contest  with  Rabbinical  Au- 
thorities— Luzzatto's  Last  Drama — Jonathan  Eibeschiitz— 
Character  and  Education  of  Eibeschiitz — His  Relations 
with  the  Jesuits  in  Prague — The  Austrian  War  of  Succes- 
sion— Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  Prague — Eibeschiitz 
becomes  Rabbi  of  Altona — Jacob  Emden — Eibeschiitz 
charged  with  Heresy — The  Controversy  between  Emden 
and  Eibeschiitz— The  Amulets — Party  Strife — Interfer- 
ence by  Christians  and  the  Civil  Authorities — Revival  of 
Sabbatianism — Jacob  Frank  Lejbowicz  and  the  Frankists 
— The  Doctrine  of  the  Trinity— Excesses  of  the  Frankists. 

page  232 

1727 1760    C.  E. 




Renaissance  of  the  Jewish  Race— Moses  Mendelssohn— 
His  Youth — Improves  Hebrew  Style — Lessing  and  Men- 
delssohn—Mendelssohn's Writings— The  Bonnet-Lavater 
Controversy— Kolbele— The  Burial  Question— Reimarus 
-Anonymous  Publication  of  his  Work — Lessing's  "  Na- 
than the  Wise" — Mendelssohn  in  "  Nathan "  -Mendels- 
sohn's Pentateuch— Opposition  to  it— The  'Berlin  Re- 
ligion "  -Montesquieu — Voltaire  -  -  Portuguese  Marranos 
in  Bordeaux — Isaac  Pinto — His  Defense  of  Portuguese 
jews — Dohm  and  Mendelssohn — Joseph  II  of  Austria- 
Michaelis-- Mendelssohn's  "Jerusalem"  -Wessely:  his 
Circular  Letter — Mendelssohn's  Death  .  .  .  page  291 

1750 — 1786  c.  E. 


The  Alliance  of  Reason  with  Mysticism — Israel  Baalshem, 
his  Career  and  Reputation — Movement  against  Rabbin- 
ism — The  "  Zaddik  "  —Beer  Mizricz,  his  Arrogance  and 
Deceptions — The  Devotional  Methods  of  the  Chassidim 
-Their  Liturgy — Dissolution  of  the  Synods  "  of  the  Four 
Countries  "  —Cossack  Massacres  in  Poland — Elijah  Wil- 
na,  his  Character  and  Method  of  Research — The  Mizricz 
and  Karlin  Chassidim — Circumstances  prove  Favorable 
to  the  Spread  of  the  New  Sect — Vigorous  Proceedings 
against  them  in  Wilna — Death  of  Beer  Mizricz — Progress 
of  Chassidism  despite  the  Persecution  of  its  Opponents. 

1750 — 1786   C.  E.  page  374 



The  Progressionists — The  Gatherer  (Meassef) — David 
Mendes — Moses  Ensheim — Wessely's  Mosaid — Marcus 
Herz — Solomon  Maimon — Culture  of  the  Berlin  Jews- 
Influence  of  French  Literature — First  Step  for  Raising 
the  Jews — The  Progressive  and  Orthodox  Parties — The 
Society  of  Friends — Friedlander  and  Conversion — De- 
pravity of  Berlin  Jewesses — Henrietta  Herz— Humboldt 
-Dorothea  Mendelssohn  —  Schlegel — Rachel — Schleier- 
macher — Chateaubriand  page  395 

1786 — 1791   c.  E. 





Foreshadowing  of  the  French  Revolution — Cerf  Berr— 
Mirabeau  on  the  Jewish  Question  in  France — Berr  Isaac 
Berr — The  Jewish  Question  and  the  National  Assembly- 
Equalization  of  Portuguese  Jews — Efforts  to  equalize 
Paris  Jews — Jewish  Question  deferred — Equalization  of 
French  Jews — Reign  of  Terror — Equalization  of  Jews  of 
Holland — Adath  Jeshurun  Congregation  —  Spread  of 
Emancipation — Bonaparte  in  Palestine — Fichte's  Jew- 
hatred— The  Poll-Tax— Grund's  "Petition  of  Jews  of 
Germany  "  —  Jacobson — Breidenbach — Lefrank — Alexan- 
der I  of  Russia:  his  Attempts  to  improve  the  Condition  of 
the  Jews  of  Russia page  429 

170,1 — 1805   c.  E. 



Jew-hatred  in  Strasburg — Bonald's  Accusations — Plots 
against  French  Jews — Furtado — David  Sinzheim — As- 
sembly of  Notables — Italian  Deputies — The  Twelve  Ques- 
tions— Debate  on  Mixed  Marriages — The  Paris  Synhe- 
drion — Its  Constitution — Napoleon's  Enactments — Is- 
rael Jacobson — Consistory  of  Westphalia — Emancipation 
in  Germany — In  the  Hanse-Towns — Restrictions  in  Sax- 
ony   page  474 

1806 — 1813   c.  E. 


The  Jews  in  the  Wars  for  Freedom — The  Congress  of  Vi- 
enna— Hardenberg  and  Metternich — Riihs'  Christian 
Germanism — Jew-hatred  in  Germany  and  Rome — German 
Act  of  Federation — Ewald's  Defense  of  Judaism — Jew- 
hatred  in  Prussia — Lewis  Way — Congress  at  Aix — Hep- 
hep  Persecution — Hartwig  Hundt — Julius  von  Voss— 
Jewish  Avengers PaSc  51° 

1813 — 1818  c.  E. 




Borne  and  Heine — Dome's  Youth — His  Attitude  to  Judaism 

-His  Love  of  Liberty — His  Defense  of  the  Jews — Heine: 

his  Position  with  Regard  to  Judaism — The  Rabbi  of  Bach- 

arach — Heine's    Thoughts    upon    Judaism — Influence    of 

Borne  and  Heine page  536 

1819 — 1830  c.  E. 



Segregation  of  the  Jews — Its  Results — Secession  and  Obsti- 
nate Conservatism — Israel  Jacobson — His  Reforms — The 
Hamburg  Reform  Temple  Union — Gotthold   Salomon- 
Decay    of    Rabbinical    Authority — Eleazar    Libermann— 
Aaron     Chorin — Lazarus     Riesser — Party     Strife — Isaac 
Bernays — His    Writings — Bernays   in    Hamburg — Mann- 
heimer — His  Congregation  in  Vienna — Berlin  Society  for 
Culture — Edward    Cans — His    Baptism — Collapse    of   the 
Society  for  Culture page  557 

1818 — 1830  c.  E. 



Dawn  of  Self-respect — Research  into  Jewish  History — Han- 
nah   Adams — Solomon    Lowisohn — Jost — His    History— 
The    Revolution    of    July    (1830) — Gabriel    Riesser — His 
Lectures — Steinheim — His    Works — His   "  Revelation  " 
Nachman     Krochmal — Rapoport — Erter — His     Poems— 
Rapoport's    Writings — Zunz — Luzzatto — His    Exegesis— 
Geiger — The    "  Nineteen    Letters  "    of    Ben    Usiel — New 
School  of  Reform — Joel  Jacoby bage  589 

1830 — 1840  c.  E. 


Mehmet  AH— Ratti  Menton— Damascus— Father  Tomaso— 
His  Disappearance — Blood  Accusation  against  the  Jews 
of  Damascus — Imprisonment  of  Accused — Their  Tor- 


tures  and  Martyrdom — Blood  Accusation  in  Rhodes— 
In  Prussia — Adolf  Cremieux — Meeting  of  English  Jews 
—Moses  Montefiore — Nathaniel  de  Rothschild — Merlato, 
the  Austrian  Consul — Plots — Thiers — Steps  taken  by  the 
Jews  in  Paris  and  London — Bernard  van  Oven — Mansion 
House  Meeting — Montefiore,  Cremieux,  and  others  sent 
to  Egypt — Solomon  Munk Page  632 

1840  c.  E. 


MARCH,     1848,    AND    THE    SUBSEQUENT    SOCIAL 


Return  of  Montefiore  and  Cremieux  from  the  East — Patri- 
otic Suggestions — General  Indecision — Gabriel  Riesser— 
Michael  Creizenach — Reform  Party  in  Frankfort — Rab- 
binical Assembly  -  -  Holdheim  -  -  Reform  Association  - 
Zachariah  Frankel — The  Berlin  Reform  Temple — Michael 
Sachs — His  Character — His  Biblical  Exegesis — Hold- 
heim and  Sachs — The  Jewish  German  Church — Pro- 
gress of  Jewish  Literature — Ewald  and  his  Works — En- 
franchisement of  English  Jews — The  Breslau  Jewish  Col- 
lege— Its  Founders — The  Mortara  Case — Pope  Pius  IX 
— The  Alliance  Israelite — Astruc,  Cohn,  Caballo,  Masuel, 
Netter — The  American  Jews — The  "  Union  of  American 
Hebrew  Congregations  "  -The  Anglo- Jewish  Association 
— Benisch,  Lowy — The  "  Israelitische  Allianz  "  -Wert- 
heimer,  Goldschmidt,  Kuranda — Rapid  Social  Advance 
of  the  Jews — Rise  of  Anti-Semitism  ....  page  667 

1840 — 1870  c.  E. 
Retrospect page  705 




Condition  of  the  Jews  in  Poland  before  the  Outbreak  of  Persecution- 
Influence  of  the  Jesuits— Characteristics  of  Poles  and  Jews — The 
Home  of  the  Cossacks— Repression  of  the  Cossacks  by  the 
Government — Jews  appointed  as  Tax  Farmers — Jurisdiction  of 
the  Synods— The  Study  of  the  Talmud  in  Poland— Hebrew  Liter- 
ature in  that  Country  becomes  entirely  Rabbinical — Character 
of  Polish  Judaism— Jews  and  Cossacks— Chmielnicki— Suffer- 
ing's of  the  Jews  in  consequence  of  his  Successes — The  Tartar 
Haidamaks— Fearful  Massacres  in  Nemirov,  Tulczyn,  and 
Homel — Prince  Vishnioviecki— Massacres  at  Polonnoie,  Lem- 
berg,  Narol,  and  in  other  Towns— John  Casimir—  Lipmann  Heller 
and  Sabbata'i  Cohen — Renewal  of  the  War  between  Cossacks 
and  Poles — Russians  join  Cossacks  in  attacking  the  Jews- 
Charles  X  of  Sweden — The  Polish  Fugitives — "  Polonization  " 
of  Judaism. 

1648—1656  c.  E. 

POLAND  ceased  to  be  a  haven  for  the  sons  of  Judah, 
when  its  short-sighted  kings  summoned  the  Jesuits 
to  supervise  the  training  of  the  young  nobles  and 
the  clergy  and  crush  the  spirit  of  the  Polish  dis- 
sidents. These  originators  of  disunion,  to  whom 
the  frequent  partition  of  Poland  must  be  attributed, 
sought  to  undermine  the  unobtrusive  power  which 
the  Jews,  through  their  money  and  prudence, 
exercised  over  the  nobles,  and  they  combined  with 
their  other  foes,  German  workmen  and  trades- 
people, members  of  the  guilds,  to  restrict  and 
oppress  them.  After  that  time  there  were  repeated 
persecutions  of  Jews  in  Poland  ;  sometimes  the 
German  guild  members,  sometimes  the  disciples  of 

2  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  I. 

the  Jesuits,  raised  a  hue  and  cry  against  them. 
Still,  in  the  calamities  of  the  Thirty  Years'  War, 
fugitive  Jews  sought  Poland,  because  the  canonical 
laws  against  Jews  were  not  applied  there  with  strict- 
ness. The  high  nobility  continued  to  be  dependent 
on  Jews,  who  in  a  measure  counterbalanced  the 
national  defects.  Polish  flightiness,  levity,  unsteadi- 
ness, extravagance,  and  recklessness  were  compen- 
sated for  by  Jewish  prudence,  sagacity,  economy, 
and  cautiousness.  The  Jew  was  more  than  a  finan- 
cier to  the  Polish  nobleman  ;  he  was  his  help  in 
embarrassment,  his  prudent  adviser,  his  all-in-all. 
Especially  did  the  nobility  make  use  of  Jews  in  de- 
veloping recently  established  colonies,  for  which 
they  had  neither  the  necessary  perseverance  nor 
the  ability.  Colonies  had  gradually  been  formed  on 
the  lower  Dnieper  and  the  northern  shore  of  the 
Black  Sea,  by  runaway  Polish  serfs,  criminals,  ad- 
venturers from  every  province,  peasants,  and  nobles, 
who  felt  themselves  cramped  and  endangered  in 
their  homes.  These  outcasts  formed  the  root  of  the 
Cossack  race  at  the  waterfalls  of  the  Dnieper 
(Za-Porogi),  whence  the  Cossacks  obtained  the  name 
of  Zaporogians.  To  maintain  themselves,  they  took 
to  plundering  the  neighboring  Tartars.  They  be- 
came inured  to  war,  and  with  every  success  their 
courage  and  independent  spirit  increased. 

The  kings,  who  needed  the  Cossacks  in  military 
undertakings  and  to  ward  off  the  inroads  of  Tartars 
and  Turks,  granted  them  some  independence  in  the 
Ukraine  and  Little  Russia,  and  appointed  a  chief- 
tain over  them  from  their  own  midst,  an  Attaman, 
or  Hetman,  with  special  marks  of  dignity.  But  the 
bigoted  temper  of  King  Sigismund  III  and  the 
Jesuits  made  the  Cossacks,  who  might  have  become 
an  element  of  strength  for  Poland,  the  source  of 
endless  discontent  and  rebellion.  The  Zaporogians 
for  the  most  part  were  adherents  of  the  Greek 
Church,  the  Greek  Catholic  confession  being  pre- 

CH.    I.  "  SYNOD    OF    THE    FOUR    COUNTRIES."  3 

dominant  in  southern  Poland.  After  the  popes 
by  means  of  the  Jesuits  had  weakened  and  oppress- 
ed the  Polish  dissidents,  they  labored  to  unite  the 
Greek  Catholics  with  the  Romish  Church  or  to  ex- 
tirpate them.  With  the  warlike  spirit  of  the  Cos- 
sacks this  change  was  not  easy  ;  hence  a  regular 
system  of  enslavement  was  employed  against  them. 
Three  noble  houses,  the  Koniecpolski,  Vishnioviecki, 
and  Potocki,  had  control  of  colonization  in  the 
Ukraine  and  Little  Russia,  and  they  transferred  to 
their  Jewish  business  agents  the  farming  of  the 
oppressive  imposts  falling  on  the  Cossacks.  Thus 
Jewish  communities  gradually  spread  in  the  Ukraine, 
Little  Russia,  and  even  beyond  these  provinces. 
The  Cossacks,  for  instance,  had  to  pay  a  tax  at  the 
birth  of  a  child  and  on  every  marriage.  That  there 
might  be  no  evasion,  the  Jewish  revenue  farmers 
had  the  keys  of  the  Greek  churches,  and  when  the 
clergyman  wished  to  perform  a  baptism  or  a  mar- 
riage, he  was  obliged  to  ask  them  for  the  key.  In 
general,  the  position  of  the  Jews  in  districts  where 
none  but  Poles  dwelt  was  better  than  in  those  which 
besides  Polish  inhabitants  contained  a  German  pop- 
ulation, as  was  the  case  in  the  large  cities,  Posen, 
Cracow,  Lublin,  and  Lemberg. 

P>y  reason  of  their  great  number,  their  import- 
ance, and  their  compact  union,  the  Jews  in  Poland 
formed  a  state  within  a  state.  The  general 
synod,  which  assembled  twice  a  year  at  Lublin  and 
Jaroslaw,  formed  a  legislative  and  judicial  parlia- 
ment from  which  there  was  no  appeal.  At  first 
called  the  Synod  of  the  Three  Countries,  it  became 
in  the  first  quarter  of  the  seventeenth  century  the 
Synod  of  the  Four  Countries  (Vaad  Arba  Arazoth). 
An  elective  president  (Parnes  di  Arba  Arazoth) 
was  at  the  head,  and  conducted  public  affairs.  The 
communities  and  rabbis  had  civil,  and,  to  a  certain 
extent,  criminal,  jurisdiction,  at  least  against  inform- 
ers and  traitors.  Hence  no  Jew  ventured  to  bring 

4  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   I. 

an  accusation  against  one  of  his  race  before  the  au- 
thorities of  the  country,  fearing  to  expose  himself 
to  disgrace  and  contempt  from  public  opinion,  which 
would  have  embittered  his  life,  or  even  entailed 
death.  Almost  every  community  had  its  college  of 
judges,  a  rabbi  with  two  assessors,  before  whom 
every  complaint  was  brought,  but  the  final  de- 
cision rested  with  the  synod.  The  synod  also  con- 
cerned itself  about  honesty  in  dealing  and  conduct, 
and  in  weight  and  measure,  wherever  Jews  were 

The  study  of  the  Talmud  in  Poland,  established 
by  Shachna,  Solomon  Lurya,  and  Moses  Isserles, 
reached  a  pitch  attained  at  no  previous  time,  nor  in 
any  other  country.  The  demand  for  copies  of  the 
Talmud  was  so  great  that  in  less  than  twenty  years 
three  editions  had  to  be  printed,  no  doubt  in  thou- 
sands of  copies.  The  study  of  the  Talmud  was  a 
greater  necessity  in  Poland  than  in  the  rest  of 
Europe.  The  rabbis,  as  has  been  already  said,  had 
jurisdiction  of  their  own,  and  decided  according  to 
Talmudical  and  Rabbinical  laws.  The  great  num- 
ber of  Jews  in  Poland,  and  their  fondness  for  litiga- 
tion, gave  occasion  to  intricate  law  cases.  The 
rabbi-judges  were  obliged  to  go  back  to  the 
source  of  law,  the  Talmud,  to  seek  points  of  sup- 
port for  such  cases.  The  contending  parties  being 
themselves  well  informed  and  acute,  the  reasoning 
of  the  rabbis  had  to  be  flawless  to  escape  criticism. 
Hence  Rabbinical  civil  law  in  Poland  met  with  extra- 
ordinary cultivation  and  extension,  to  adapt  it  to  all 
cases  and  make  it  available  for  the  learned  liti- 
gants. Thus  the  ever-growing  subtlety  of  the 
method  of  Talmud  study  depended  on  current  con- 
ditions and  wants,  and  on  the  circumstance  that  each 
Talmudist  wished  to  surpass  all  others  in  ingenuity. 

It  would  be  tedious  to  enumerate  the  Rabbinical 
authors  of  Poland  in  the  first  half  of  the  seventeenth 
century.  The  cultivation  of  a  single  faculty,  that  of 

CH.  I.  STUDY    OF    THE    TALMUD    IN    POLAND.  5 

hair-splitting  judgment,  at  the  cost  of  the  rest,  nar- 
rowed the  imagination,  hence  not  a  single  literary 
product  appeared  in  Poland  deserving  the  name  of 
poetry.  All  the  productions  of  the  Polish  school 
bore  the  Talmudical  stamp,  as  the  school  regarded 
everything  from  the  Talmudical  point  of  view.  The 
disciples  of  this  school  looked  down  almost  with 
contempt  on  Scripture  and  its  simple  grandeur,  or 
rather  it  did  not  exist  for  them.  How,  indeed, 
could  they  have  found  time  to  occupy  themselves 
with  it  ?  And  what  could  they  do  with  these  chil- 
dren's stories,  which  did  not  admit  the  application 
of  intellectual  subtlety  ?  They  knew  something  of 
the  Bible  from  the  extracts  read  in  the  synagogues, 
and  those  occasionally  quoted  in  the  Talmud.  The 
faculty  for  appreciating  the  sublimity  of  biblical  doc- 
trines and  characters,  as  well  as  simplicity  and  ele- 
vation in  general,  was  denied  them.  A  love  of 
twisting,  distorting,  ingenious  quibbling,  and  a  fore- 
gone antipathy  to  what  did  not  lie  within  their  field 
of  vision,  constituted  the  character  of  the  Polish 
Jews.  Pride  in  their  knowledge  of  the  Talmud  and 
a  spirit  of  dogmatism  attached  even  to  the  best 
rabbis,  and  undermined  their  moral  sense.  The 
Polish  Jews  of  course  were  extraordinarily  pious,  but 
even  their  piety  rested  on  sophistry  and  boastful- 
ness.  Each  wished  to  surpass  the  other  in  knowl- 
edge of  what  the  Code  prescribed  for  one  case  or 
another.  Thus  religion  sank,  not  merely,  as  among 
Jews  of  other  countries,  to  a  mechanical,  unintelli- 
gent ceremonial,  but  to  a  subtle  art  of  interpreta- 
tion. To  know  better  was  everything  to  them  ;  but 
to  act  according  to  acknowledged  principles  of  re- 
ligious purity,  and  exemplify  them  in  a  moral  life, 
occurred  to  but  few.  Integrity  and  right-minded- 
ness they  had  lost  as  completely  as  simplicity  and 
the  sense  of  truth.  The  vulgar  acquired  the  quib- 
bling method  of  the  schools,  and  employed  it  to 
outwit  the  less  cunning.  They  found  pleasure  and 

6  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   I. 

a  sort  of  triumphant  delight  in  deception  and  cheat- 
ing. Against  members  of  their  own  race  cunning 
could  not  well  be  employed,  because  they  were 
sharp-witted  ;  but  the  non-Jewish  world  with  which 
they  came  into  contact  experienced  to  its  disadvan- 
tage the  superiority  of  the  Talmudical  spirit  of  the 
Polish  Jews.  The  Polish  sons  of  the  Talmud  paid 
little  attention  to  the  fact,  that  the  Talmud  and  the 
great  teachers  of  Judaism  object  even  more  strongly 
to  takino-  advantage  of  members  of  a  different  faith 

O  c!> 

than  of  those  of  their  own  race. 

The  corruption  of  the  Polish  Jews  was  avenged 
upon  them  in  a  terrible  way,  and  the  result  was, 
that  the  rest  of  the  Jews  in  Europe  were  for  a  time 
infected  with  it.  With  fatal  blindness  Polish  Jews 
offered  the  nobility  and  the  Jesuits  a  helping  hand 
in  oppressing  the  Zaporogian  Cossacks  in  the 
Ukraine  and  Little  Russia.  The  magnates  wished 
to  make  profitable  serfs  of  the  Cossacks,  the  Jesuits 
hoped  to  convert  the  Greek  heretics  into  Roman 
Catholics,  the  Jews  settled  in  the  district  expected 
to  enrich  themselves  and  play  the  lord  over  these 
pariahs.  They  advised  the  possessors  of  the  Cos- 
sack colonies  how  most  completely  to  humiliate,  op- 
press, torment,  and  ill-use  them  ;  they  usurped  the 
office  of  judges  over  them,  and  vexed  them  in  their 
ecclesiastical  affairs.  No  wonder  that  the  enslaved 
Cossacks  hated  the  Jews,  with  whom  their  relations 
were  closest,  almost  more  than  their  noble  and 
clerical  foes.  The  Jews  were  not  without  warning 
what  would  be  their  lot,  if  these  embittered  enemies 
once  got  the  upper  hand.  In  an  insurrection  of  the 
Zaporogians  under  their  Hetman  in  about  1638, 
despite  its  brief  duration,  they  slew  200  Jews,  and 
destroyed  several  synagogues.  Nevertheless,  Jews 
lent  a  hand,  when  in  consequence  of  the  insurrec- 
tion the  further  enslavement  of  the  sufferers  was 
determined  upon.  In  the  year  1648,  fixed  by  that 
lying  book,  the  Zohar,  they  expected  the  coming  of 


the  Messiah  and  the  time  of  redemption,  when  they 
would  be  in  power,  and,  therefore,  they  were  more 
reckless  and  careless  than  was  their  custom  at  other 
times.  Bloody  retribution  was  not  long  delayed, 
and  struck  the  innocent  with  the  guilty,  perhaps  the 
former  more  severely  than  the  latter. 

It  proceeded  from  a  man  who  understood  how  to 
make  use  of  the  increasing  hatred  of  the  Cossacks 
for  his  purposes,  and  who  was  regarded  by  his 
countrymen  as  their  ideal.  Bogdan  Chmielnicki 
(Russian  Chmel),  born  about  1595,  died  1657,  be- 
fore whom  all  Poland  trembled  for  several  years, 
gave  Russia  the  first  opportunity  of  interfering  in 
the  Polish  republic,  and  was  a  frightful  scourge  for 
the  Jews.  Chmielnicki,  brave  in  war  and  artful  in 
the  execution  of  his  plans,  impenetrable  in  his 
schemes,  at  once  cruel  and  hypocritical,  had  been 
vexed  by  Jews,  when  he  held  the  subordinate  posi- 
tion of  camp  secretary  (Pisar)  of  the  Cossacks  sub- 
ject to  the  house  of  Koniecpolski.  A  Jew,  Zacha- 
riah  Sabilenki,  had  played  him  a  trick,  by  which  he 
was  robbed  of  his  wife  and  property.  Another  had 
betrayed  him  when  he  had  come  to  an  understand- 
ing with  the  Tartars.  Besides  injuries  which  his 
race  had  sustained  from  Jewish  tax  farmers  in  the 
Ukraine,  he,  therefore,  had  personal  wrongs  to 
avenge.  His  remark  to  the  Cossacks,  "  The  Poles 
have  delivered  us  as  slaves  to  the  cursed  breed 
of  Jews,"  was  enough  to  excite  them.  Vengeance- 
breathing  Zaporogians  and  booty-loving  Tartars 
in  a  short  time  put  the  Polish  troops  to  flight 
by  successful  manoeuvres  (May  18,  1648).  Potocki, 
the  lieutenant-general,  and  8,000  Poles,  according 
to  agreement,  were  delivered  to  the  Tartars.  After 
the  victory,  the  wild  troops  went  eastward  from  the 
Dnieper,  between  Kiev  and  Pultava,  plundering 
and  murdering,  especially  the  Jews  who  had  not 
taken  flight  ;  the  number  of  the  murdered  reached 
several  thousand.  Hundreds  underwent  baptism 

8  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   I. 

in  the  Greek  Church,  and  pretended  to  be  Chris- 
tians, in  order  to  save  themselves.  Fortunate  were 
those  who  fell  into  captivity  with  the  Tartars  ;  they 
were  transported  to  the  Crimea,  and  ransomed  by 
Turkish  Jews.  Four  Jewish  communities  (Porobischa 
and  others)  of  about  3,000  souls  resolved  to  escape 
massacre  by  surrendering  to  the  Tartars  with  all 
their  property.  They  were  well  treated,  and  sold 
into  Turkey,  where  they  were  ransomed  in  a  brother- 
ly manner  by  those  of  their  own  race.  The  Con- 
stantinople community  sent  a  deputy  to  Holland  to 
collect  money  from  the  rich  communities  for  the 
ransom  of  captives. 

Unfortunately  for  the  Poles  and  Jews,  King 
Vladislav,  for  whom  Chmielnicki  had  shown  some 
respect,  was  removed  by  death.  During  the  inter- 
regnum of  several  months,  from  May  to  October, 
1648,  the  usual  Polish  dissension  occurred,  which 
crippled  every  attempt  at  resistance.  At  first 
Chmielnicki  drew  back,  apparently  inclined  to  ne- 
gotiate with  the  crown,  but  he  gave  his  creatures 
full  power  to  ravage  the  Polish  provinces.  Regular 
troops  of  murderers,  called  Haidamaks  (the  Tartar 
word  for  partisans),  were  formed  under  brutal 
leaders  who  cared  not  a  straw  for  human  life,  and 
who  reveled  in  the  death-struggles  of  their  Polish 
and  Jewish  foes.  In  the  name  of  religion  they  were 
urged  by  the  Greek  popes  to  murder  Catholics  and 
Jews.  The  commander  of  each  troop  had  his  own 
method  of  exercising  cruelty.  One  had  thongs 
slung  round  the  necks  of  Catholic  and  Jewish 
women,  by  which  they  were  dragged  along ;  this  he 
called  "  presenting  them  with  a  red  ribbon."  A  few 
weeks  after  the  first  victory  of  the  Cossacks,  a 
troop  under  another  of  these  chiefs  advanced 
against  the  stronghold  of  Nemirov,  where  6,000 
Jews, -inhabitants  and  fugitives  from  the  neighbor- 
hood, had  assembled  ;  they  were  in  possession  of 
the  fortress,  and  closed  the  gates.  But  the  Cos- 

CH.   I.  THE    HAIDAMAKS.  9 

sacks  had  an  understanding  with  the  Greek  Chris- 
tians in  the  town,  and  put  on  Polish  uniforms  in 
order  to  be  taken  for  Poles.  The  Christian  inhabi- 
tants urged  the  Jews  to  open  the  gates  for  their 
friends.  They  did  so,  and  were  suddenly  attacked 
by  the  Cossacks  and  the  inhabitants  of  the  town, 
and  almost  entirely  cut  down  amid  frightful  tortures 
(Siwan  20 — June  10,  1648). 

Another  Haidamak  troop  under  Kryvonoss  at- 
tacked the  town  of  Tulczyn,  where  about  600  Chris- 
tians ?nd  2,000  Jews  had  taken  refuge  in  the  for- 
tress. There  were  brave  Jews  among  them,  or 
necessity  had  made  them  brave,  and  they  would  not 
die  without  resistance.  Nobles  and  Jews  swore  to 
defend  the  town  and  fortress  to  the  last  man.  As 
the  Cossack  peasants  understood  nothing  of  the  art 
of  siege,  and  had  repeatedly  suffered  severely  from 
the  sorties  of  Jews  and  Poles,  they  resorted  to  a 
trick.  They  assured  the  nobles  that  their  rage  was 
directed  only  against  the  Jews,  their  deadly  foes  ;  if 
these  were  delivered  up,  they  would  withdraw.  The 
infatuated  nobles,  forgetful  of  their  oath,  proposed 
that  the  jews  should  deliver  up  their  arms  to  them. 
The  Jews  at  first  thought  of  turning  on  the  Poles 
for  their  treachery,  as  they  exceeded  them  in  num- 
bers. But  the  rabbi  of  Tulczyn  warned  them 
against  attacking  the  Poles,  who  would  inflict  bloody 
vengeance,  and  all  Poland  would  be  excited  against 
the  J  ews,  who  would  be  exterminated.  He  implored 
them  to  sacrifice  themselves  for  their  brethren  in 
the  whole  country  ;  perhaps  the  Cossacks  would 
accept  their  property  as  ransom.  The  Jews  con- 
sented, and  delivered  up  their  arms,  the  Poles  there- 
upon admitting  the  troops  into  the  town.  After  the 
latter  had  taken  everything  from  the  Jews,  they  set 
before  them  the  choice  of  death  or  baptism.  Not 
one  of  them  would  purchase  life  at  that  price  ;  about 
1,500  were  tortured  and  executed  before  the  eyes 
of  the  Polish  nobles  (Tamuz  4 — June  24).  The 

IO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   I. 

Cossacks  left  ten  rabbis  alive,  in  order  to  extort 
laree  sums  from  the  communities.  The  Poles  were 


immediately  punished  for  their  treachery.  Depriv- 
ed of  the  assistance  of  the  Jews,  they  were  attacked 
by  the  Cossacks  and  slain,  proving  that  violators  of 
their  word  cannot  reckon  on  fidelity  towards  them- 
selves. This  sad  event  had  the  good  effect  that  the 
Poles  always  sided  with  the  Jews,  and  were  not  op- 
posed to  them  in  the  course  of  the  long  war. 

At  the  same  time  another  Haidamak  troop,  under 
a  leader  named  Hodki,  had  penetrated  into  Little 
Russia,  and  caused  dreadful  slaughter  in  the  com- 
munities of  Homel,  Starodub,  Czernigov,  and  other 
places  east  and  north  of  Kiev.  The  Jews  of  Homel 
are  said  to  have  suffered  martyrdom  most  firmly, 
on  the  same  day  on  which  the  Tulczyn  commu- 
nity was  annihilated.  The  leader  of  the  troop  had 
all  the  Jews  of  Homel,  inhabitants  as  well  as  fugi- 
tives, stripped  outside  the  town,  and  surrounded  by 
Cossacks,  and  called  upon  them  to  be  baptized  or 
to  expect  a  most  frightful  death.  They  all,  men, 
women,  and  children,  to  the  number  of  about  1,500, 
preferred  death. 

Prince  Vishnioviecki,  the  only  heroic  figure 
amongst  the  Poles  at  that  time,  a  man  of  penetra- 
tion, intrepid  courage,  and  strategic  ability,  defended 
the  cause  of  the  persecuted  Jews  with  devoted  zeal. 
He  took  the  fugitives  under  the  protecting  wings  of 
his  small,  but  brave  force,  with  which  he  everywhere 
pursued  the  Cossack  bands  to  destruction.  But, 
because  of  his  limited  power,  he  could  accomplish 
nothing  of  lasting  import.  Through  petty  jealousy, 
he  was  passed  over  at  the  election  of  the  com- 
mander-in-chief  against  the  Cossack  insurrection, 
and  instead  of  him  three  were  chosen,  of  a  character 
calculated  to  help  on  Chmielnicki  to  further  victories. 

Annoyed  at  the  pitiful  policy  of  the  regent,  the 
primate  of  Gnesen,  Vishnioviecki  followed  his  own 
course,  but  was  compelled  to  retreat  before  the 


overpowering  number  of  the  roving  troops  and  the 
Greek  Catholic  population  in  sympathy  with  them, 
and  so  destruction  was  brought  on  the  Jews,  who 
had  reckoned  on  his  heroic  courage.  In  the  fortress 
of  Polonnoie,  between  Zaslav  and  Zytomir,  10,000 
Jews,  partly  inhabitants,  partly  fugitives  from  the 
neighborhood,  are  said  to  have  perished  at  the  hand 
of  the  besieging  Haidamaks  and  the  traitorous  in- 
habitants (Ab  13 — July  22). 

The  unfortunate  issue  of  the  second  war  between 
Poles  and  Cossacks  (September,  1648),  when  the 
Polish  army,  more  through  dread  of  the  Tartars 
under  Tugai  Bey  and  the  incapacity  of  its  generals, 
than  through  Chmielnicki's  bravery,  was  scattered 
in  wild  flight,  and  collected  only  behind  the  walls  of 
Lemberg,  prepared  a  bloody  fate  even  for  Jews  who 
thought  themselves  safe  at  a  distance  from  the  field 
of  battle.  There  was  no  escape  from  the  wild  as- 
saults of  the  Zaporogians,  unless  they  could  reach 
the  Wallachian  borders.  The  blood  of  slaughtered 
and  maltreated  Jews  marked  the  vast  tract  from  the 
southern  part  of  the  Ukraine  to  Lemberg  by  way  of 
Dubno  and  Brody  ;  in  the  town  of  Bar  alone  from 
two  to  three  thousand  perished.  It  scarcely  need 
be  said  that  the  brutal  cruelty  of  the  regular  Cos- 
sacks, as  well  as  of  the  wild  Haidamaks,  made  no 
distinction  between  Rabbanites  and  Karaites.  The 
important  community  of  Lemberg  lost  many  of  its 
members  through  hunger  and  pestilence,  and  its 
property  besides,  which  it  had  to  pay  to  the  Cos- 
sacks as  ransom. 

In  the  town  of  Narol  the  Zaporogians  caused  a 
revolting  butchery.  It  is  said  that  in  the  beginning 
of  November  45,000  persons,  among  them  12,000 
Jews,  were  slain  there  with  the  cruellest  tortures. 
Among  the  corpses  remained  living  women  and 
children,  who  for  several  days  had  to  feed  on  human 
flesh.  Meanwhile  the  Haidamaks  roamed  about  in 
Volhynia,  Podolia,  and  West  Russia,  and  slaked 

12  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  I. 

their  revenge  in  the  blood  of  nobles,  Catholics, 
clergy,  and  Jews,  to  thousands  and  tens  of  thous- 
ands. In  Crzemieniec  an  inhuman  monster  slew 
hundreds  of  Jewish  children,  scornfully  examined 
the  corpses  as  Jews  do  with  cattle,  and  threw  them 
to  the  dogs.  In  many  towns  Jews,  as  well  as  Cath- 
olics, armed  themselves,  and  drove  the  bloodthirsty 
Cossacks  away. 

The  election  of  a  king,  which  finally  was  effected — 
and,  though  the  Polish  state  was  on  the  brink  of  an 
abyss,  it  took  place  amidst  fights  and  commotions — 
put  an  end  to  bloodshed  for  the  moment.  Although 
for  the  most  part  in  a  drunken  condition,  Chmiel- 
nicki  retained  sobriety  enough  to  dictate,  among 
his  conditions  of  peace,  that  no  Catholic  church 
should  be  tolerated,  nor  any  Jew  live,  in  the  Cos- 
sack provinces.  The  commission,  unable  to  accept 
the  conditions,  departed  without  settling  the  busi- 
ness (February  16,  1649).  The  Jews,  who  had 
reckoned  upon  a  settlement,  and  returned  to  their 
home,  paid  for  their  confidence  with  death,  for  the 
Cossacks  surrounded  the  towns  with  death-cries. 
Thus,  a  second  time,  many  Jews  and  nobles  per- 
ished at  Ostrog  (March  4,  1649). 

The  breakingf  off  of  the  negotiation  with  Chmiel- 

*^y  £j 

nicki  led  to  a  third  encounter.  Although  the  Polish 
army  this  time  appeared  better  armed  on  the  field  of 
battle,  it  had  as  little  success  as  before.  In  the  battle 
at  Sbaraz  it  would  have  been  completely  destroyed  by 
the  Zaporogians  and  Tartars,  if  the  king  had  not 
wisely  come  to  an  understanding  with  the  Tartar 
chief.  Thereupon  followed  the  peace  (August, 
1649),  which  confirmed  Chmielnicki's  programme, 
among  other  points  that  concerning  the  Jews.  In 
the  chief  seats  of  the  Cossacks  (i.  e.,  in  the  Ukraine, 
West  Russia,  in  the  district  of  Kiev,  and  a  part  of 
Podolia)  they  could  neither  own  or  rent  landed 
estates,  nor  live  there. 

In  consequence  of  this  convention,  the  Poles  and 


Jews  were  unmolested  for  about  a  year  and  a  half, 
although  on  both  sides  schemes  were  harbored  to 
break  the  agreement  at  the  first  opportunity.  As 
far  as  residence  was  allowed  them,  the  fugitive  Jews 
returned  to  their  homes.  King  John  Casimir  allowed 
the  Jews  baptized  according  to  the  Greek  confession 
openly  to  profess  Judaism.  In  consequence,  the 
baptized  Jews  fled  from  the  Catholic  districts  to 
Poland  to  be  free  from  compulsory  Christianity. 
This  permission  was  especially  used  by  Jewish 
women  whom  the  rude  Zaporogians  had  married. 
The  Jews  brought  back  into  Judaism  many  hundreds 
of  children,  who  had  lost  their  parents  and  relatives, 
and  had  been  brought  up  in  Christianity,  investigated 
their  descent,  and  hung  the  indication  of  it  in  a  small 
roll  round  their  necks,  that  they  might  not  marry 
blood  relations  of  forbidden  degrees.  The  general 
synod  of  rabbis  and  leaders  which  assembled  at 
Lublin  in  1650  occupied  itself  entirely  with  the 
attempt  to  heal,  at  least  partially,  the  wounds  of 
Judaism.  Many  hundreds,  even  thousands,  of  Jew- 
ish women  did  not  know  whether  their  husbands 
lay  in  the  grave,  or  were  begging  in  the  East  or 
West,  in  Turkey  or  Germany,  whether  they  were 
widows  or  wives,  or  they  found  themselves  in  other 
perplexities  created  by  the  Rabbinical  law.  The 
synod  of  Lublin  is  said  to  have  hit  upon  excellent 
arrangements.  Most  probably  the  lenient  Lipmann 
Heller,  then  rabbi  of  Cracow,  strove  to  effect  a 
mild  interpretation  of  the  law  relating  to  supposed 
death.  At  the  instigation  of  the  young,  genial 
rabbi  Sabbatai  Cohen  (Shach),  the  day  of  the  first 
massacre  at  Nemirov  (Siwan  20)  was  appointed  as 
a  general  fast  day  for  the  remnant  of  the  Polish 
community.  The  hoary  Lipmann  Heller,  at  Cracow, 
Sabbatai  Hurwitz,  at  Posen,  and  the  young  Sabbatai 
Cohen  drew  up  penitential  prayers  (Selichoth), 
mostly  selected  from  older  pieces,  for  this  sad  memo- 
rial day. 

14  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  I. 

After  a  pause  of  a  year  and  a  half,  the  war 
between  Cossacks  and  Poles  broke  out  in  the 
early  part  of  the  year  1651,  the  first  victims  again 
being  Jews,  as  Chmielnicki  and  the  wild  Zaporo- 
gians  now  fell  upon  the  Polish  territory  where  Jew- 
ish communities  had  again  settled.  The  massacre, 
however,  could  not  be  so  extensive  as  before  ;  there 
no  longer  were  thousands  of  Jews  to  slaughter. 
Moreover  the  evil  days  had  inspired  the  Jews  with 
courage  ;  they  armed  a  troop  of  Jewish  soldiers,  and 
enlisted  them  in  the  king's  service.  The  fortune  of 
war  turned  against  the  Cossacks,  and  they  were 
obliged  to  accept  the  peace  dictated  by  the  king 
(November  n,  1651).  John  Casimir  and  his  minis- 
ters did  not  forget  to  guard  the  rights  of  the  Jews 
in  the  treaty.  They  were  to  be  permitted  to  settle 
anywhere  in  the  Ukraine,  and  to  hold  property  on 

This  treaty  also  was  concluded  and  ratified  only 
to  be  broken.  Chmielnicki  had  accepted  it  to 
strengthen  himself  and  restore  his  reputation  with 
the  Cossacks.  As  soon  as  he  had  gained  his  first 
object,  he  began  hostilities  against  the  Poles,  from 
which  Jews  always  suffered  most  severely.  In  two 
years  after  the  first  insurrection  of  the  Zaporogians, 
more  than  300  communities  were  completely  des- 
troyed by  death  or  flight,  and  the  end  of 
their  suffering  had  not  yet  arrived.  The  Polish 
troops  could  not  withstand  the  violent  attacks 
or  skillful  policy  of  Chmielnicki.  When  he  could  no 
longer  hope  for  help  from  the  Tartars,  he  combined 
with  the  Russians,  and  incited  them  to  a  war  against 
unhappy  Poland,  divided  against  itself.  In  conse- 
quence of  the  Russian  war  in  the  early  part  of  1654 
and  1655,  those  communities  suffered  which  had 
been  spared  by  the  Cossack  swarms,  i.  e.,  the  western 
districts  and  Lithuania.  The  community  of  Wilna, 
one  of  the  largest,  was  completely  depopulated  (July, 
1655)  by  slaughter  on  the  part  of  the  Russians  and 

CH.   I.  WARS    IN    POLAND.  15 

by  migration.  As  if  fate  were  then  determining 
upon  the  partition  of  Poland,  a  new  enemy  was 
added  to  the  Cossacks  and  Russians  in  Charles  X 
of  Sweden,  who  used  Poland  as  the  first  available 
pretext  to  slake  his  thirst  for  war.  Through  the 
Swedish  war,  the  communities  of  Great  and  Little 
Poland,  from  Posen  to  Cracow,  were  reduced  to 
want  and  despair.  The  Jews  of  Poland  had  to  drink 
the  cup  of  poison  to  the  dregs.  The  Polish  general, 
Czarnicki,  who  hated  the  Jews,  ill-used  those  spared 
by  Cossacks,  Russians,  and  the  wild  Swedes  of  the 
Thirty  Years'  War,  under  the  pretense  that  they 
had  a  traitorous  understanding;  with  the  Swedes.  The 


Poles  also  behaved  barbarously  to  the  Jews,  destroyed 
the  synagogues,  and  tore  up  the  holy  scriptures. 
All  Poland  was  like  a  bloody  field  of  battle,  on  which 
Cossacks,  Russians,  Prussians,  Swedes,  and  the 
troops  of  Prince  Ragoczi  of  Transylvania  wrestled  ; 
the  Jews  were  ill-used  or  slain  by  all.  Only  the 
Great  Elector  of  Brandenburg  behaved  leniently  to- 
wards them.  The  number  of  Jewish  families  said  to 
have  perished  in  ten  years  of  this  war  (600,000)  is 
certainly  exaggerated,  but  the  slaughtered  Jews  of 
Poland  may  well  be  rated  at  a  quarter  of  a  million. 
With  the  decline  of  Poland  as  a  power  of  the  first 
rank,  the  importance  of  Polish  Judaism  diminished. 
The  remnant  were  impoverished,  depressed,  and 
could  not  recover  their  former  position.  Their 
need  was  so  great,  that  those  who  drifted  to  the 
neighborhood  of  Prussia  hired  themselves  to  Chris- 
tians as  day  laborers  for  field  work. 

As  at  the  time  of  the  expulsion  of  the  Jews  from 
Spain  and  Portugal  every  place  was  filled  with 
fugitive  Sephardic  Jews,  so  during  the  Cossack- 
Polish  war  fugitive  Polish  Jews,  wretched  in  appear- 
ance, with  hollow  eyes,  who  had  escaped  the  sword, 
the  flames,  hunger,  and  pestilence ;  or  who, 
dragged  by  the  Tartars  into  captivity,  had 
been  ransomed  by  their  brethren,  were  seek- 

l6  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   I. 

ing  shelter  everywhere.  Westwards,  by  way  of 
Dantzic  and  through  the  Vistula  district,  Jewish- 
Polish  fugitives  wandered  to  Amsterdam,  and  were 
forwarded  thence  to  Frankfort-on-the-Main  and 
other  Rhenish  cities.  Three  thousand  Lithuanian 
Jews  came  to  Texel  in  the  Netherlands,  and  were  hos- 
pitably received.  Southwards  many  fled  to  Mora- 
via, Bohemia,  Austria,  and  Hungary,  and  wander- 
ed from  those  places  to  Italy.  The  prisoners 
in  the  armies  of  the  Tartars  came  to  the  Turk- 
ish provinces,  and  some  of  them  drifted  to 
Barbary.  Everywhere  they  were  received  by  their 
brethren  with  great  cordiality  and  love,  cared  for, 
clothed,  and  supported.  The  Italian  Jews  ransomed 
and  supported  them  at  great  sacrifice.  Thus,  the 
community  of  Leghorn  at  this  time  formed  a  resolu- 
tion to  collect  and  spend  a  quarter  of  their  income 
for  the  liberation  and  maintenance  of  the  unfortunate 
Polish  Jews.  The  German  and  Austrian  communi- 
ties, also,  although  they  had  suffered  under  the 
calamities  of  the  Thirty  Years'  War,  exercised  that 
brotherly  feeling  which  they  rarely  professed  with 
their  lips,  but  cherished  the  more  deeply  in  their 

The  number  and  misery  of  those  escaped  from 
Poland  were  so  great,  that  the  German  communities 
and  probably  others  were  obliged  to  devote  the 
money  intended  for  Jerusalem  to  the  maintenance 
of  Polish  Jews.  The  Jews  of  Jerusalem  dependent 
on  alms,  who  were  drained  by  the  pasha  and  his 
subordinates,  felt  the  want  of  their  regular  support 
from  Europe.  They  soon  fell  into  such  distress, 
that  of  the  700  widows  and  a  smaller  number  of 
men  living  there  nearly  400  are  said  to  have  died 
of  hunger. 

The  Cossack  persecution  of  the  Jews,  in  a  sense, 
remodeled  Judaism.  It  became  Polonized,  so  to 
speak.  The  Polish-Rabbinical  method  of  study  had 
long  dominated  the  Talmudical  schools  of  Germany 


and  Italy  through  the  abundant  literature  by  Polish 
authors.  Now,  through  the  fugitives,  most  of  whom 
were  Talmudical  scholars,  it  became  authoritative. 
Rabbinical  appointments  were  mostly  conferred  on 
Polish  Talmudists,  as  in  Moravia,  Amsterdam, 
Fiirth,  Frankfort,  and  Metz.  On  account  of  their 
superiority  in  their  department,  these  Polish  Tal- 
mudists were  as  proud  as  the  Spanish  and  Portu- 
guese fugitives  had  been,  and  looked  down  with 
contempt  on  the  rabbis  who  spoke  German,  Portu- 
guese, and  Italian.  Far  from  giving  up  their  own 
method  in  a  foreign  country,  they  demanded  that 
all  the  world  should  be  regulated  by  them,  and  they 
gained  their  point.  People  joked  about  the  "Pol- 
acks,"  but  nevertheless  became  subordinate  to 
them.  Whoever  wished  to  acquire  thorough  Tal- 
mudic  and  Rabbinical  knowledge  was  obliged  to  sit 
at  the  feet  of  Polish  rabbis ;  every  father  of  a  family 
who  wished  to  educate  his  children  in  the  Talmud 
sought  a  Polish  rabbi  for  them.  These  Polish  rabbis 
gradually  forced  their  sophistical  piety  upon  the 
German,  and  partly  on  the  Portuguese,  and  Italian, 
communities.  Through  their  influence,  scientific 
knowledge  and  the  study  of  the  Bible  declined  still 
more  than  previously.  In  the  century  of  Descartes 
and  Spinoza,  when  the  three  Christian  nations,  the 
French,  English,  and  Dutch,  gave  the  death-blow  to 
the  Middle  Ages,  Jewish-Polish  emigrants,  baited 
by  Chmielnicki's  bands,  brought  a  new  middle  age 
over  European  Judaism,  which  maintained  itself  in 
full  vigor  for  more  than  a  century,  to  some  extent 
lasting  to  our  time. 




Obstacles  to  the  Resettlement  of  Jews  in  England — Manasseh  ben 
Israel— His  Character  and  Attainments— Christian  Students  of 
Jewish  Literature:  Scaliger,  the  Buxtorfs,  Selden,  and  Vossius— 
Women  devote  themselves  to  Hebrew — The  Fifth-Monarchy 
Men :  Expectation  of  the  Millennium — Enthusiastic  Friends  of 
the  Jews— The  Puritans — Cromwell  and  Holmes— Nicholas'  Pro- 
tection of  the  Jews— "The  Hope  of  Israel"— Fresh  Victims  of 
the  Inquisition— Manasseh  ben  Israel's  Negotiations  with  the 
English  Parliament — He  journeys  to  London,  and  is  graciously 
received  by  Cromwell — A  Council  sits  at  Whitehall  to  decide  the 
Question  of  the  Re-admission  of  the  Jews— Prynne's  anti-Jewish 
Work — Controversial  Pamphlets — Manasseh's  "Vindication" — 
The  Re-admission  of  the  Jews  connived  at. 

1655—1657  c.  E. 

AT  the  very  time  when  the  Jews  of  Poland  were 
trodden  down,  slaughtered,  or  driven  through 
Europe  like  terrified  wild  beasts,  a  land  of  freedom 
was  opened,  from  which  the  Jews  had  been  banished 
for  more  than  three  centuries  and  a  half.  England, 
which  the  wise  queen  Elizabeth  and  the  brave  Crom- 
well had  raised  to  be  the  first  power  in  Europe,  a 
position  very  different  from  that  of  crumbling 
Poland,  again  admitted  Jews,  not  indeed  through 
the  great  portal,  yet  through  the  back  door.  But 
this  admission  was  so  bruited  abroad,  that  it  was 
like  a  triumph  for  Judaism.  The  Jews  of  Amster- 
dam and  Hamburg  looked  with  longing  to  this 
island,  to  which  they  were  so  near,  with  whose  mer- 
chants, shipowners,  and  scholars  they  were  in  con- 
nection, and  which  promised  wide  scope  for  the 
exercise  of  their  varied  abilities.  But  settlement 
there  seemed  beset  with  insuperable  obstacles.  The 
English  episcopal  church,  which  exercised  sway  over 



the  English  conscience,  was  even  more  intolerant 
than  the  popery  which  it  persecuted.  Not  granting 
freedom  to  Catholics  and  Dissenters,  would  it  toler- 
ate the  descendants  of  those  aspersed  in  the  New 
Testament?  The  English  people,  who  for  centu- 
ries had  seen  no  Jew,  shared  to  the  full  the 
antipathy  of  the  clergy.  To  them  every  Jew  was  a 
Shylock,  who,  with  hearty  goodwill,  would  cut  a 
Christian  to  pieces — a  monster  in  human  form,  bear- 
ing the  mark  of  Cain.  Who  would  undertake  to 
banish  this  strong  prejudice  in  order  to  render 
people  and  rulers  favorable  to  the  descendants  of 
Israel  ? 

The  man  who  undertook  and  executed  this  dif- 
ficult task  did  not  belong  to  the  first  rank  of  intel- 
lectual men,  but  possessed  the  right  measure  of 
insight  and  narrowness,  strength  of  will  and  flexi- 
bility, knowledge  and  imagination,  self-denial  and 
vanity,  required  for  so  arduous  an  undertaking. 
Manasseh  ben  Israel,  second  or  third  rabbi  at 
Amsterdam,  who  at  home  played  only  a  subordi- 
nate part,  the  poor  preacher  who,  to  support  his 
family,  was  obliged  to  resort  to  printing,  but  ob- 
tained so  little  profit  from  it,  that  he  wished  to 
exchange  pulpit  oratory  for  mercantile  speculation, 
and  was  near  settling  in  Brazil  ;  he  it  was  who  won 
England  for  Judaism,  and,  if  he  did  not  banish, 
diminished  the  prejudice  against  his  race.  To  him 
belongs  the  credit  for  a  service  not  to  be  lightly 
estimated,  for  there  were  but  few  to  help  him.  The 
release  of  the  Jews  from  their  thousand  years'  con- 
tempt and  depreciation  in  European  society,  or 
rather  the  struggle  for  civil  equality,  begins  with 
Manasseh  ben  Israel.  He  was  the  Riesser  of  the 
seventeenth  century.  As  has  been  stated,  he  was 
not  in  the  true  sense  great,  and  can  only  be 
reckoned  a  man  of  mediocrity.  He  belonged  to  the 
happily  constituted  class  of  persons,  who  do  not 
perceive  the  harsh  contrasts  and  shrill  discords  in 

2O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  II. 

the  world  around,  hence  are  confiding  and  enter- 
prising. His  heart  was  deeper  than  his  mind.  His 
power  rested  in  his  easy  eloquence,  his  facility  in 
explaining  and  working  out  ideas  which  lay  within 
his  narrow  field  of  vision,  and  which  he  had  acquired 
rather  than  produced.  Manasseh  ben  Israel  had 
complete  grasp  of  Jewish  literature,  and  knew  the 
Christian  theology  of  his  time,  and  what  was  to  be 
said  on  each  point,  i.  e.,  what  had  been  said  by  his 
predecessors.  On  the  other  hand,  he  had  only  a 
superficial  knowledge  of  those  branches  of  learning 
which  require  keenness  of  intellect,  such  as  philo- 
sophy and  the  Talmud.  His  strength  was  in  one 
respect  his  weakness.  His  facility  in  speaking  and 
writing  encouraged  a  verbose  style  and  excessive 
productiveness.  He  left  more  than  400  sermons  in 
Portuguese,  and  a  mass  of  writings  that  fill  a 
catalogue,  but  discuss  their  subjects  only  super- 
ficially. Manasseh's  contemporaries  looked  upon 
his  writings  with  different  eyes.  The  learning 
amassed  therein  from  all  literatures  and  languages, 
and  the  smoothness  of  form  riveted  their  attention, 
and  excited  their  admiration.  Among  Jews  he  was 
extraordinarily  celebrated  ;  whoever  could  produce 
Latin,  Portuguese,  or  Spanish  verse,  made  known 
his  praise.  But  even  Christian  scholars  of  his  time 
over-estimated  him. 

In  Holland,  which,  by  the  concurrence  of  many 
circumstances,  and  especially  through  the  powerful 
impulse  of  Joseph  Scaliger,  the  prince  of  philologists, 
had  become  in  a  sense  the  school  of  Europe,  the 
foundation  was  laid  in  the  seventeenth  century  for 
the  wonderful  learning  contained  in  voluminous 
folios.  At  no  time  had  there  been  so  many  philolo- 
gists with  early-matured  learning,  iron  memory,  and 
wonderful  devotion  to  the  science  of  language,  as  in 
the  first  half  of  the  seventeenth  century,  which 
seems  to  have  been  specially  appointed  to  revive 
what  had  so  long  been  neglected.  All  the  literary 


treasures  of  antiquity  were  collected  and  utilized  ; 
statesmen  vied  with  professional  scholars.  In  this 
gigantic  collection  there  was  little  critical  search  for 
truth  ;  the  chief  consideration  was  the  number  of 
scientific  facts  gathered.  The  ambition  of  many  was 
spurred  on  to  understand  the  three  favored  lan- 
guages of  antiquity — Greek,  Latin,  and  Hebrew — 
and  their  literatures.  Hebrew,  the  language  of 
religion,  enjoyed  special  preference,  and  whoever 
understood  it  as  well  as  the  other  two  tongues  was 
sure  of  distinction.  Joseph  Scaliger,  the  oracle  of 
Dutch  and  Protestant  theology,  had  given  to  Rabbin- 
ical literature,  so-called,  a  place  in  the  republic  of 
letters  beside  the  Hebrew  language,  and  even  the 
Talmud  he  treated  with  a  certain  amount  of  respect. 
His  Dutch,  French,  and  English  disciples  followed 
his  example,  and  devoted  themselves  with  zeal  to 
this  branch  of  knowledge,  formerly  regarded  with 
contempt  or  even  aversion. 

John  Buxtorf,  senior  (born  1564,  died  1639),  of 
Basle,  may  be  said  to  have  been  master  of  Hebrew 
and  Rabbinical  literature,  and  he  rendered  them 
accessible  to  Christian  circles.  He  carried  on  a 
lively  correspondence  in  Hebrew  with  Jewish 
scholars  in  Amsterdam,  Germany,  and  Constanti- 
nople. Even  ladies  devoted  themselves  to  Hebrew 
language  and  literature.  That  prodigy,  Anna  Maria 
Schurmann.of  Utrecht,who  knew  almost  all  European 
languages  and  their  literature,  corresponded  in  He- 
brew with  scholars,  and  also  with  an  English  lady, 
Dorothea  Moore,  and  quoted  Rashi  and  Ibn  Ezra 
with  a  scholar's  accuracy.  The  eccentric  queen 
Christina  of  Sweden,  the  learned  daughter  of  Gus- 
tavus  Adolphus,  understood  Hebrew.  Statesmen, 
such  as  Hugo  Grotius,  and  the  Englishman  John 
Selden,  seriously  and  deeply  engaged  in  its  pursuit 
for  their  theological  or  historical  studies. 

But  Christian  scholars,  with  all  their  zeal,  had  not 
yet  acquired  independence  in  Rabbinical  literature  ; 

22  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  II. 

without  a  Jewish  guide,  they  could  not  move,  or  felt 
unsafe.  To  Christian  inquirers,  therefore,  Manas- 
seh  ben  Israel's  treatises,  which  presented  many 
Rabbinical  passages  and  new  points  of  view,  were 
highly  welcome.  Much  of  the  Talmudic  literature 
became  accessible  through  his  clear  exposition. 
Hence,  Dutch  scholars  sought  out  Manasseh, 
courted  his  friendship,  fairly  hung  upon  his  lips,  and 
gradually  discarded  prejudice  against  Jews,  which 
even  the  most  liberal-minded  men  in  the  most  tol- 
erant country  of  Europe  had  not  laid  aside.  Ma- 
nasseh was  joined  particularly  by  those  eager 
inquirers  who  were  persecuted  or  declared  heretics 
by  the  ruling  church.  The  learned  Vossius  family, 
even  John  Gerard  Vossius,  senior,  although  filled 
with  strong  hatred  against  Jews,  was  affable  to 
Manasseh.  His  son,  Dionysius  Vossius,  a  prodigy 
of  learning,  snatched  a  way  by  death  in  his  eighteenth 
year,  on  his  death-bed  translated  into  Latin  Manas- 
seh's  "Reconciler"  (Conciliador)  shortly  after  its 
appearance.  Isaac  Vossius,  the  youngest  son,  who 
filled  an  honorable  office  under  the  queen  of  Sweden, 
recommended  Manasseh  ben  Israel  to  her.  By  this 
family  he  was  made  acquainted  with  the  learned 
statesman  Hugo  Grotius,  who  also  received  in- 
struction from  him.  The  chief  of  the  Arminians, 
Simon  Episcopius,  sought  intercourse  with  Manas- 
seh, as  did  Caspar  Barlaeus,  who  as  a  Socinian, 
2.  e.,  a  denier  of  the  Trinity,  was  avoided  by  orthodox 
Christians.  He  attached  himself  to  Manasseh,  and 
sang  his  praise  in  Latin  verses,  on  which  account  he 
was  attacked  yet  more  violently,  because  he  had  put 
the  Jewish  faith  on  an  equality  with  the  Christian. 
The  learned  Jesuit  Peter  Daniel  Huet  also  culti- 
vated his  friendship.  Gradually  the  Chacham  and 
preacher  of  Amsterdam  acquired  such  a  reputation 
among  Christians,  that  every  scholar  traveling 
through  that  city  sought  him  out  as  an  extraordi- 
nary personage.  Foreigners  exchanged  letters 


with  him,  and  obtained  from  him  explanations  on 
difficult  points.  Manasseh  had  an  interview  with 
Queen  Christina  of  Sweden,  which  stimulated  her 
kindness  for  the  Jews,  and  her  liking  for  Jewish 
literature.  So  highly  did  many  Christians  rate 
Manasseh  ben  Israel,  that  they  could  not  suppress 
the  wish  to  see  so  learned  and  excellent  a  rabbi 
won  over  to  Christianity. 

Most  of  all  Christian  visionaries,  who  dreamt  of 
the  coming  of  the  Fifth  Monarchy,  the  reign  of  the 
saints  (in  the  language  of  Daniel),  crowded  round 
Manasseh  ben  Israel.  The  Thirty  Years'  War 
which  had  delivered  property  and  life  over  to  wild 
soldiers,  the  tyrannical  oppression  of  believers 
struggling  for  inward  freedom  and  morality — in 
England  by  the  bishops  and  the  secular  govern- 
ment, in  France  by  the  despotic  Richelieu — awak- 
ened in  visionaries  the  idea  that  the  Messianic 
millennium,  announced  in  the  book  of  Daniel  and 
the  Apocalypse,  was  near,  and  that  their  sufferings 
were  only  the  forerunners  of  the  time  of  grace. 
These  fantastic  visionaries  showed  themselves 
favorable  to  the  Jews;  they  wished  this  great 
change  to  be  effected  with  the  participation  of  those 
to  whom  the  announcement  had  first  been  made. 
They  conceded  that  the  Jews  must  first  take  pos- 
session of  the  Holy  Land,  which  could  not  easily  be 
accomplished,  even  by  a  miracle.  For,  the  lost 
Ten  Tribes  must  first  be  found,  and  gathered  to- 
gether, if  the  prophetic  words  were"  not  to  fall  to 
the  ground.  The  tribes  assembled  to  take  posses- 
sion of  the  Holy  Land  must  have  their  Messiah,  a 
shoot  out  of  the  stem  of  Jesse.  But  what  would 
become  of  Jesus,  the  Christ,  i.  e.,  Messiah,  in  whom 
Jews  could  not  be  made  to  believe  ?  Some  of  the 
Fifth  Monarchy  visionaries  conceded  to  Jews  a 
Messiah  of  their  own,  in  the  expectation  that  the 
struggle  for  precedence  between  the  Jewish  and  the 
Christian  saviour  would  decide  itself. 

24  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

Such  apocalyptic  dreams  struck  a  responsive 
chord  in  Manasseh  ben  Israel's  heart.  He  also  ex- 
pected, not  the  reign  of  the  saints,  but,  according  to 
Kabbalistic  reckoning,  the  speedy  advent  of  the 
Messianic  time.  The  Zohar,  the  book  revered  by 
him  as  divine,  announced  in  unambiguous  terms, 
that  Israel's  time  of  grace  would  begin  with  the  year 
5408  of  the  world  (1648).  Manasseh  in  his  inner- 
most being  was  a  mystic,  his  classical  and  literary 
education  being  only  external  varnish,  not  diminish- 
ing his  belief  in  miracles.  Hence  he  was  pleased 
with  the  letter  of  a  Christian  visionary  of  Dantzic, 
expressing  belief  in  the  restoration  of  the  glory  of 
the  Jews.  John  Mochinger,  of  the  old  Tyrolese 
nobility,  who  had  fallen  into  the  whirlpool  of  mysti- 
cism, wrote  to  Manasseh  ben  Israel  in  the  midst  of 
an  eulogium  on  his  learning :  "  Know  and  be  con- 
vinced that  I  duly  honor  your  doctrines,  and  to- 
gether with  some  of  my  brethren  in  the  faith,  ear- 
nestly desire  that  Israel  may  be  enlightened  with 
the  true  light,  and  enjoy  its  ancient  renown  and 
happiness."  At  a  later  period  another  German 
mystic  of  Dantzic  established  relations  with  the 
Kabbalistic  Chacham  of  Amsterdam— viz.,  Abra- 
ham von  Frankenberg,  a  nobleman,  and  a  disciple 
of  Jacob  Bohme.  He  openly  said  :  "The  true  light 
will  come  from  the  Jews  ;  their  time  is  not  far  off. 
From  day  to  day  news  will  be  heard  from  different 
places  of  wonderful  things  come  to  pass  in  their 
favor,  and  all  the  islands  shall  rejoice  with  them." 
In  daily  intercourse  with  Manasseh  were  two  Chris- 
tian friends,  Henry  Jesse  and  Peter  Serrarius,  who 
were  enthusiasts  in  the  cause  of  Israel's  restoration. 
In  France,  in  the  service  of  the  great  Conde,  there 
was  a  peculiar  visionary,  Isaac  La  Peyrere  of  Bor- 
deaux, a  Huguenot,  perhaps  of  Jewish-Marrano 
blood.  He  had  the  strange  notion  that  there  were 
men  before  Adam  (pre-Aclamites),  from  whom  all 
men  except  the  Jews  were  descended.  In  a  book 

CH.   II.  THE    PURITANS.  2$ 

on  the  subject,  which  brought  him  to  the  dungeon 
of  the  Inquisition,  he  attached  great  importance  to 
the  Jews.  In  another  work  on  "  The  Return  of  the 
Jews,"  he  maintained  that  the  Jews  ought  to  be  re- 
called from  their  dispersion  in  all  parts  of  the  world, 
to  effect  a  speedy  return  to  the  Holy  Land.  The 
king  of  France,  the  eldest  son  of  the  Church,  has 
the  duty  to  bring  about  this  return  of  the  eldest  son 
of  God.  He,  too,  entered  into  communication  with 

The  greatest  number  of  ardent  admirers  "  God's 
people"  found  in  England,  precisely  among  those 
who  had  powerful  influence  in  the  council  and  the 
camp.  At  the  time  when  the  Germans  were  fight- 
ing each  other  on  account  of  difference  of  creed, 
invoking  the  interference  of  foreigners,  and  impair- 
ing their  own  freedom  and  power,  England  was 
gaining  what  could  never  be  taken  away,  religious 
and,  at  the  same  time,  political  freedom,  and  this 
made  it  a  most  powerful  and  prosperous  country. 
In  Germany  the  religious  parties,  Catholics,  Luth- 
erans, and  Calvinists,  in  selfish  blindness  demanded 
religious  freedom  each  for  itself  alone,  reserving 
oppression  and  persecution  for  the  others.  These 
internecine  quarrels  of  the  Germans  were  utilized 
by  the  princes  to  confirm  their  own  despotic  power. 
In  England,  the  same  selfishness  prevailed  among 
the  Episcopalians,  Presbyterians,  and  Catholics,  but 
a  fourth  party  arose  whose  motto  was  religious 
freedom  for  all.  The  senseless  despotism  of 
Charles  I  and  the  narrow-mindedness  of  the  Long 
Parliament  had  played  into  the  hands  of  this  intelli- 
gent and  powerful  party.  England,  like  Germany, 
resembled  a  great  blood-stained  battle-field,  but  it 
had  produced  men  who  knew  what  they  wanted, 
who  staked  their  lives  for  it,  and  effected  the  rejuven- 
escence of  the  nation.  Oliver  Cromwell  was  at  once 
the  head  which  devised,  and  the  arm  which  executed 
sound  ideas.  By  the  sword  he  and  his  army  ob- 

26  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

tained  religious  freedom,  not  only  for  themselves, 
but  also  for  others.  He  and  his  officers  were  not 
revengeful  freebooters  or  blood-thirsty  soldiers,  but 
high-minded,  inspired  warriors  of  God,  who  waged 
war  against  wickedness  and  falseness,  and  hoped 
for,  and  undertook  to  establish  a  moral  system  of 
government,  the  kingdom  of  God.  Like  the  Macca- 
bees of  old,  the  Puritan  warriors  fought  "  sword  in 
hand,  and  praise  of  God  in  their  mouth."  Cromwell 
and  his  soldiers  read  the  Bible  as  often  as  they 
fouerht.  But  not  out  of  the  New  Testament  could 


the  Roundheads  derive  inspiration  and  warlike  cour- 
age. The  Christian  Bible,  with  its  monkish  figures, 
its  exorcists,  its  praying  brethren,  and  pietistic  saints, 
supplied  no  models  for  warriors  contending  with  a 
faithless  king,  a  false  aristocracy,  and  unholy  priests. 
Only  the  great  heroes  of  the  Old  Testament,  with 
fear  of  God  in  their  hearts  and  the  sword  in  their 
hands,  at  once  religious  and  national  champions, 
could  serve  as  models  for  the  Puritans  :  the  Judges, 
freeing  the  oppressed  people  from  the  yoke  of  for- 
eign domination  ;  Saul,  David,  and  Joab,  routing  the 
foes  of  their  country;  and  Jehu,  making  an  end  of 
an  idolatrous  and  blasphemous  royal  house — these 
were  favorite  characters  with  Puritan  warriors.  In 
every  verse  of  the  books  of  Joshua,  Judges,  Samuel, 
and  Kings,  they  saw  their  own  condition  reflected  ; 
every  psalm  seemed  composed  for  them,  to  teach 
them  that,  though  surrounded  on  every  side  by  un- 
godly foes,  they  need  not  fear  while  they  trusted  in 
God.  Oliver  Cromwell  compared  himself  to  the 
judge  Gideon,  who  first  obeyed  the  voice  of  God 
hesitatingly,  but  afterwards  courageously  scattered 
the  attacking  heathens  ;  or  to  Judas  Maccabaeus, 
who  out  of  a  handful  of  martyrs  formed  a  host  of 
victorious  warriors. 

To  bury  oneself  in  the  history,  prophecy,  and 
poetry  of  the  Old  Testament,  to  revere  them 
as  divine  inspiration,  to  live  in  them  with  every 

CH.   II.  THE    PURITANS    AND    THE    JEWS.  2J 

emotion,  yet  not  to  consider  the  people  who  had 
originated  all  this  glory  and  greatness  as  pre- 
ferred and  chosen,  was  impossible.  Among  the 
Puritans,  therefore,  were  many  earnest  admirers  of 
"  God's  people,"  and  Cromwell  was  one  of  them. 
It  seemed  a  marvel  that  the  people,  or  a  remnant  of 
the  people,  whom  God  had  distinguished  by  great 
favor  and  stern  discipline,  should  still  exist.  A 
desire  was  excited  in  the  hearts  of  the  Puritans  to 
see  this  living  wonder,  the  Jewish  people,  with  their 
own  eyes,  to  bring  Jews  to  England,  and,  by  making 
them  part  of  the  theocratic  community  about  to  be 
established,  stamp  it  with  the  seal  of  completion. 
The  sentiments  of  the  Puritans  towards  the  Jews 
were  expressed  in  Oliver  Cromwell's  observation, 
"  Great  is  my  sympathy  with  this  poor  people,  whom 
God  chose,  and  to  whom  He  gave  His  law ;  it  re- 
jects Jesus,  because  it  does  not  recognize  him  as  the 
Messiah."  Cromwell  dreamt  of  a  reconciliation  of 
the  Old  and  the  New  Testament,  of  an  intimate 
connection  between  the  Jewish  people  of  God  and 
the  English  Puritan  theocracy.  But  other  Puritans 
were  so  absorbed  in  the  Old  Testament  that  the 
New  Testament  was  of  no  importance.  Especially 
the  visionaries  in  Cromwell's  army  and  among  the 
members  of  Parliament,  who  were  hoping  for  the 
Fifth  Monarchy,  or  the  reign  of  the  saints,  assigned  to 
the  Jewish  people  a  glorious  position  in  the  expected 
millennium.  A  Puritan  preacher,  Nathaniel  Holmes 
(Holmesius),  wished,  according  to  the  letter  of  many 
prophetic  verses,  to  become  the  servant  of  Israel, 
and  serve  him  on  bended  knees.  The  more  the 
tension  in  England  increased  through  the  imprison- 
ment of  the  king,  the  dissensions  between  the  Pres- 
byterian Long  Parliament  and  the  Puritan  army,  the 
civil  war,  the  execution  of  King  Charles,  and  the 
establishment  of  a  republic  in  England,  the  more 
public  life  and  religious  thought  assumed  Jewish 
coloring.  The  only  thing  wanting  to  make  one  think 

28  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

himself  in  Judaea  was  for  the  orators  in  Parliament 
to  speak  Hebrew.  One  author  proposed  the 
seventh  day  as  the  day  of  rest,  and  in  a  work  showed 
the  holiness  of  this  day,  and  the  duty  of  the  English 
people  to  honor  it.  This  was  in  the  beginning  of 
1649.  Parliament,  it  is  true,  condemned  this  work 
to  be  burnt  as  heretical,  scandalous,  and  profane, 
and  sentenced  the  printer  and  author  to  punishment. 
But  the  Israelite  spirit  among  the  Puritans,  especially 
among  the  Levelers,  or  ultra-republicans,  was  not 
suppressed  by  these  means.  Many  wished  the 
government  to  declare  the  Torah  to  be  the  code  for 

These  proceedings  in  the  British  islands,  which 
promised  the  exaltation  of  Israel  at  no  distant  period, 
were  followed  by  Manasseh  with  beating  heart. 
Did  these  voices  not  announce  the  coming  of  the 
Messianic  kingdom  ?  He  hoped  so,  and  put  forth 
feverish  activity  to  help  to  bring  about  the  desired 
time.  He  entertained  a  visionary  train  of  thought. 
The  Messiah  could  not  appear  till  the  punishment  of 
Israel,  to  be  scattered  from  one  end  of  the  earth  to 
the  other,  had  been  fulfilled.  There  were  no  Jews 
then  living  in  England.  Exertions  must  be  made 
to  obtain  permission  for  Jews  to  dwell  in  England, 
that  this  hindrance  to  the  advent  of  the  Messiah 
might  be  removed.  Manasseh  therefore  put  himself 
into  communication  with  some  important  persons, 
who  assured  him  that  "the  minds  of  men  were 
favorable  to  the  Jews,  and  that  they  would  be  accep- 
table and  welcome  to  Englishmen."  What  especi- 
ally justified  his  hopes  was  the  "Apology"  by 
Edward  Nicholas,  former  secretary  to  Parliament, 
"  for  the  honorable  nation  of  the  Jews."  In  this 
work,  which  the  author  dedicated  to  the  Long 
Parliament,  the  Jews  were  treated,  as  the  chosen 
people  of  God,  with  a  tenderness  to  which  they  were 
not  accustomed.  Hence  the  author  felt  it  necessary 
to  affirm  at  the  end,  that  he  wrote  it,  not  at  the 

CH.  ii.  NICHOLAS'   "APOLOGY."  29 

instigation  of  Jews,  but  out  of  love  to  God  and  his 
country.  The  opinion  of  the  apologist  was,  that  the 
great  sufferings  brought  upon  England  by  the  reli- 
gious and  civil  war  were  a  just  punishment  for 
English  persecution  of  the  saints  and  favorites  of 
God,  i.  e.,  the  Jews,  and  an  urgent  admonition  to 
atone  for  this  great  sin  by  admitting  them  and  show- 
ing them  brotherly  treatment.  The  author  proved 
the  preference  and  selection  of  Israel  by  many 
biblical  quotations.  He  referred  to  a  preacher  who 
had  said  in  Parliament  in  connection  with  the  verse  : 
"  Touch  not  mine  anointed,  and  do  my  prophets  no 
harm,"  that  the  weal  or  woe  of  the  world  depended 
upon  the  good  or  bad  treatment  of  God's  people. 
God  in  His  secret  counsel  had  sustained  this  people 
to  the  present  day,  and  a  glorious  future  was  reserved 
for  them.  Hence  it  was  the  duty  of  Englishmen  to 
endeavor  to  comfort  them,  if  possible  give  them 
satisfaction  for  their  innocent  blood  shed  in  this 
kingdom,  and  enter  into  friendly  intercourse  with 
them.  This  work  also  defends  the  Jews  against  the 
accusation  of  having  crucified  Jesus.  The  death  of 
Jesus  took  place  at  the  instigation  of  the  Synhedrion, 
not  of  the  people.  In  most  impressive  terms  it 
urges  the  English  to  comfort  the  afflicted  and  un- 
happy Jews.  The  pope  and  his  adherents,  he  said, 
would  be  enraged  at  the  kind  treatment  of  the 
Jews,  for  they  still  inflicted  cruelty  and  humiliation 
upon  the  people  of  God,  the  popes  compelling  the 
Jews  to  wear  opprobrious  badges,  and  Catholics 
avoiding  all  contact  with  them,  because  they  ab- 
horred idols  and  heathen  worship. 

This  work,  which,  more  than  friendly,  absolutely 
glorified  the  Jews,  excited  the  greatest  attention  in 
England  and  Holland.  Manasseh  ben  Israel  was 
delighted  with  it,  thinking  that  he  was  near  his  ob- 
ject, especially  as  his  friend  Holmes  at  once  com- 
municated with  him  on  the  subject,  saying  that  he 
himself  was  about  to  prepare  a  work  on  the  millen- 

3O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

nium,  in  which  he  would  emphasize  the  importance 
of  the  Jews  in  the  molding  of  the  future.  Manasseh 
ben  Israel  immediately  set  to  work  to  do  his  share 
towards  the  realization  of  his  object.  He,  however, 
as  well  as  the  Christian  mystics  in  England,  had 
one  anxiety ;  what  had  become  of  the  lost  Ten 
Tribes  banished  by  the  Assyrian  king  Shalmanassar? 
A  restoration  of  the  Jewish  kingdom  without  these 
Ten  Tribes  seemed  impossible,  nay,  their  discovery 
was  the  guarantee  of  the  truth  of  the  prophetic  promi- 
ses. The  union  of  Judah  and  Israel  which  some  of  the 
prophets  had  impressively  announced  would  remain 
unfulfilled  if  the  Ten  Tribes  had  ceased  to  exist. 
Manasseh,  therefore,  laid  great  stress  upon  being 
able  to  prove  their  existence  somewhere.  Fortu- 
nately he  was  in  a  position  to  specify  the  situation 
of  the  Ten  Tribes.  Some  years  before,  a  Jewish 
traveler,  named  Montezinos,  had  affirmed  on  oath 
that  he  had  seen  native  Jews  of  the  tribe  of  Reuben, 
in  South  America,  and  had  held  communication 
with  them.  The  circumstantiality  of  his  tale  excited 
curiosity,  and  inclined  his  contemporaries  to  belief. 
Antonio  de  Montezinos  was  a  Marrano,  whom  busi- 
ness or  love  of  travel  had  led  to  America.  There 
he  had  stumbled  upon  a  Mestizo  (Indian),  who  had 
excited  in  him  a  suspicion  that  members  of  his  race 
were  living  in  America,  persecuted  and  oppressed 
by  the  Indians,  as  the  Indians  had  been  by  the 
Spaniards,  and  later  experiences  confirmed  the 

Antonio  de  Montezinos,  or  Aaron  Levi,  had 
brought  the  surprising  news  to  Amsterdam,  and 
had  related  it  under  oath  to  a  number  of  persons, 
among  them  Manasseh  ben  Israel  (about  1644). 
Afterwards  he  went  to  Brazil,  and  there  died.  On 
his  deathbed  he  repeatedly  asserted  the  truth  of 
the  existence  of  some  Israelite  tribes  in  America. 
Manasseh  ben  Israel  was  firmly  convinced  by  the 
statement  of  this  man,  and  made  it  the  foundation 

CH.   II.  THE    LOST    TEN    TRIBES.  3! 

of  a  work,  entitled  "  Israel's  Hope,"  composed  to 
pave  the  way  for  the  Messianic  time.  The  Ten 
Tribes,  according  to  his  assumption,  had  been  dis- 
persed to  Tartary  and  China,  and  some  might  have 
gone  thence  to  the  American  continent.  Some  indi- 
cations and  certain  manners  and  customs  of  the 
Indians,  resembling  those  of  the  Jews,  seemed  to 
him  to  favor  this  idea.  The  prophetic  announce- 
ment of  the  perpetuity  of  the  Israelite  people  had 
accordingly  been  confirmed ;  moreover  there  were 
signs  that  the  tribes  were  ready  to  come  forth  from 
their  hiding-places  and  unite  with  the  others.  The 
time  of  redemption,  which,  it  was  true,  could  not  be 
foretold,  and  in  the  calculation  of  which  many  had 
erred,  appeared  at  last  to  be  approaching.  The 
prophets'  threats  of  punishment  to  the  Jews  had 
been  fulfilled  in  a  terrible  manner  ;  why  should  not 
their  hope-awakening  promises  be  verified  ?  What 
unspeakable  cruelty  the  monster  of  the  Inquisition 
had  inflicted,  and  still  continued  to  inflict,  on  the 
poor  innocents  of  the  Jewish  race,  on  adults  and 
children  of  every  age  and  either  sex  !  For  what 
reason  ?  Because  they  would  not  depart  from  the 
Law  of  Moses,  revealed  to  them  amidst  so  many 
miracles.  For  it  numberless  victims  had  perished 
wherever  the  tyrannical  rule  of  the  Inquisition  was 
exercised.  And  martyrs  continued  to  show  incredi- 
ble firmness,  permitting  themselves  to  be  burnt 
alive  to  honor  the  name  of  God. 

Manasseh  enumerated  all  the  autos-da-fe  of  Mar- 
ranos  and  other  Jewish  martyrs  which  had  taken 
place  in  his  time. 

Great  excitement  was  caused  amono-  Dutch  For- 


tuguese  Jews  by  the  burning  of  a  young  Marrano, 
twenty-five  years  old,  well  read  in  Latin  and  Greek 
literature.  Isaac  de  Castro-Tartas,  born  at  Tartas, 
a  small  town  in  Gascony,  had  come  with  his  parents 
to  Amsterdam.  Glowing  with  zeal  and  a  desire  to 
bring  back  to  Judaism  those  Marranos  who  con- 

32  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  II. 

tinued  Christians,  he  prepared  to  travel  to  Brazil. 
In  vain  his  parents  and  friends  warned  him  against 
this  mad  step.  In  Bahia  he  was  arrested  by  the 
Portuguese,  recognized  as  a  Jew,  sent  to  Lisbon, 
and  handed  over  to  the  Inquisition.  This  body  had 
no  formal  right  over  Isaac  de  Castro,  for  when 
arrested  he  was  a  Dutch  citizen.  The  tribunal  in 
vain  tried  to  induce  him  to  abjure  Judaism.  Young 
De  Castro-Tartas  was  determined  manfully  to  en- 
dure a  martyr's  death  in  honor  of  his  faith.  His 
death  was  attended  with  the  eclat  he  had  longed 
for.  In  Lisbon  the  funeral  pile  was  kindled  for  him 
and  several  others,  on  December  226.,  1647.  He 
cried  out  of  the  flames,  "  Hear,  O  Israel,  God  is 
one,"  in  so  impressive  a  tone  that  the  witnesses  of 
the  dreadful  spectacle  were  greatly  moved.  For 
several  days  nothing  else  was  talked  of  in  the 
capital  but  the  dreadful  voice  of  the  martyr  Isaac  de 
Castro-Tartas  and  the  "Shema,"  uttered  with  his 
last  breath.  People  spoke  of  it  shudderingly.  The 
Inquisition  was  obliged  to  forbid  the  uttering  of  the 
word  "  Shema  "  with  a  threat  of  heavy  punishment. 
It  is  said,  too,  that  at  that  time  it  was  determined  to 
burn  no  more  Jewish  heretics  alive  in  Lisbon. 

The  Amsterdam  community  was  stunned  by  the 
news  of  successive  executions  of  youthful  sufferers. 
De  Castro-Tartas  had  parents,  relatives,  and  friends 
in  Amsterdam,  and  was  beloved  on  account  of  his 
knowledge  and  character.  The  rabbi,  Saul  Mor- 
teira,  delivered  a  memorial  address  on  his  death. 
Poets  deplored  and  honored  him  in  Hebrew  and 
Spanish  verses,  and,  horrified  by  the  new  atrocities 
of  the  Inquisition  against  Jews,  Manasseh  ben  Israel 
wrote  "  Israel's  Hope."  Even  the  reader  of  to-day 
can  feel  grief  trembling  in  every  word.  Indeed,  if 
martyrs  could  prove  the  truth  and  tenability  of  the 
cause  for  which  they  bleed,  Judaism  needs  no  further 
proof ;  for  no  people  and  no  religion  on  earth  have 
produced  such  numerous  and  firm  martyrs.  Ma- 

CH.   II.  "ISRAELS    HOPE.  33 

nasseh  used  this  proof  to  draw  the  conclusion  that, 
as  promised  sufferings  had  been  inflicted,  so  the 
promised  redemption  and  regeneration  of  God's 
people  would  be  fulfilled.  He  sent  this  Latin 
treatise  on  the  existence  of  the  Ten  Tribes  and  their 
hopes  to  a  prominent  and  learned  personage  in 
England,  to  be  read  before  Parliament,  which  was 
under  Cromwell's  influence,  and  before  the  Council 
of  State.  In  an  accompanying  letter  Manasseh  ex- 
plained to  Parliament  his  favorite  idea,  that  the 
return  of  the  Jews  to  their  native  land — the  time 
for  which  was  so  near — must  be  preceded  by  their 
complete  dispersion.  The  dispersion,  according  to 
the  words  of  Scripture,  was  to  be  from  one  end  of 
the  earth  to  the  other,  naturally  including  the  island 
of  England,  in  the  extreme  north  of  the  inhabited 
world.  But  for  more  than  300  years  no  Jews  had 
lived  in  England ;  therefore,  he  added  the  request 
that  the  Council  and  Parliament  grant  Jews  permis- 
sion to  settle  in  England,  to  have  the  free  exercise 
of  their  religion,  and  to  build  synagogues  there 
(1650).  Manasseh  made  no  secret  of  his  Messianic 
hopes,  because  he  could  and  did  reckon  upon  the 
fact  that  the  saints  or  Puritans  themselves  wished 
for  the  "  assembling  of  God's  people  "  in  their  an- 
cestral home,  and  were  inclined  to  help  and  promote 
it.  He  also  intimated  in  his  letter,  that  he  was  re- 
solved to  go  to  England,  to  arrange  for  the  settle- 
ment of  the  Jews. 

Manasseh  ben  Israel  had  not  reckoned  amiss. 
His  request  and  dedication  were  favorably  received 
by  Parliament.  Lord  Middlesex,  probably  the  me- 
diator, sent  him  a  letter  of  thanks  with  the  super- 
scription, "  To  my  dear  brother,  the  Hebrew  phil- 
osopher, Manasseh  ben  Israel."  A  passport  to  En- 
gland was  also  sent  to  him.  The  English  ambassa- 
dor in  Holland,  Lord  Oliver  St.  John,  a  relative  of 
Cromwell,  told  him  that  he  wished  to  go  to  the 
Amsterdam  synagogue,  and  gave  him  to  understand, 

34  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  II. 

probably  according  to  Cromwell's  instructions,  that 
England  was  inclined  to  gratify  the  long-cherished 
wish  of  the  Jews.  Manasseh  took  care  that  he  be 
received  in  the  house  of  prayer  with  music  and 
hymns  (about  August,  1651).  However,  the  goal 
to  which  he  seemed  so  near  was  removed  by  politi- 
cal complications.  England  and  Holland  entered 
into  a  fierce  war,  which  broke  off  the  connection  be- 
tween Amsterdam  and  London.  Manasseh's  rela- 
tions to  his  elder  colleague,  Saul  Morteira  (1652), 
and  the  president,  Joseph  da  Costa— it  is  not  known 
on  what  account — became  strained,  and  in  an  angry 
mood  he  formed  the  resolution  to  leave  Amster- 
dam. The  directors  of  the  community  succeeded 
in  establishing  a  tolerable  understanding  between 
the  two  chachams,  but  Manasseh  had  neither  the 
cheerfulness  required  nor  a  favorable  opportunity 
to  resume  his  adventurous  scheme. 

But  when  Oliver  Cromwell,  by  the  illegal  but 
necessary  dissolution  of  the  Long  Parliament,  as- 
sumed the  chief  power  in  April,  1653,  and  showed 
an  inclination  to  conclude  peace  with  the  States 
General,  Manasseh  again  took  up  his  project. 
Cromwell  had  called  together  a  new  parliament,  the 
so-called  Short,  or  Barebones,  Parliament,  which 
was  composed  wholly  of  saints,  i.  e.,  Puritan  preach- 
ers, officers  with  a  biblical  bias,  and  millennium  vision- 
aries. The  partiality  of  Cromwell's  officers  for  the 
old  Jewish  system  is  shown  by  the  serious  proposi- 
tion that  the  Council  of  State  should  consist  of 
seventy  members,  after  the  number  of  the  Jewish 
synhedrion.  In  Parliament  sat  General  Harrison,  a 
Baptist,  who,  with  his  party,  wished  to  see  the 
Mosaic  law  introduced  into  England.  When  Parlia- 
ment met  (July  5,  1653),  Manasseh  hastened  to  re- 
peat his  request,  that  Jews  be  granted  permission 
to  reside  in  England.  The  question  of  the  Jews 
was  immediately  put  on  the  programme  of  business. 
Parliament  sent  Manasseh  a  safe  conduct  to  Lon- 


don,  that  he  might  conduct  the  business  in  person. 
As  the  war  between  England  and  Holland  still  con- 
tinued, his  relatives  and  friends  urged  him  not  to 
expose  himself  to  the  danger  of  a  daily  change  of 
affairs,  and  he  again  put  off  his  voyage  to  a  more 
favorable  time.  The  Short  Parliament  was  soon 
dissolved  (December  12,  1653),  and  Cromwell  ob- 
tained kingly  power  under  the  title  of  Protector  of 
the  Realm.  When  he  concluded  peace  with  Hol- 
land (April,  1654),  Manasseh  thought  the  time  well 
suited  for  effecting  his  wishes  for  the  redemption  of 
Israel.  He  was  encouraged  by  the  fact  that  three 
admirals  of  the  English  fleet  had  drawn  up  a  peti- 
tion in  October,  1654,  to  admit  Jews  into  England. 
Manasseh  presented  his  petition  for  their  admission 
to  Cromwell's  second,  still  shorter  Parliament,  and, 
probably  at  his  instigation,  David  Abrabanel  Dor- 
mido,  one  of  the  leading  men  at  Amsterdam,  at  the 
same  time  presented  one  to  the  same  effect,  which 
Cromwell  urgently  recommended  to  the  Council 
for  speedy  decision  (November  3,  1654). 

Manasseh  reveled  in  intoxicating  dreams  of  the 
approaching  glorious  time  for  Israel.  He  regarded 
himself  as  the  instrument  of  Providence  to  bring 
about  its  fulfillment.  In  these  dreams  he  was  up- 
held and  confirmed  by  Christian  mystics,  who  were 
eagerly  awaiting  the  millennium.  The  Dutchman, 
Henry  Jesse,  had  shortly  before  published  a  work, 
"  On  the  Speedy  Glory  of  Judah  and  Israel,"  in  the 
Dutch  language.  The  Bohemian  physician,  mystic, 
and  alchemist,  Paul  Felgenhauer,  went  beyond  the 
bounds  of  reason.  Disgusted  with  the  formal  creed 
of  the  Evangelical  Church,  and  the  idolatrous  ten- 
dency of  Catholicism,  he  wrote  during  the  Thirty 
Years'  War  against  the  corruption  of  the  Church 
and  the  Protestant  clergy,  and  wished  for  a  spiritual, 
mystical  religion.  By  a  peculiar  calculation,  Felgen- 
hauer was  led  to  believe  that  the  year  six  thousand 
and  the  advent  of  the  Messiah  connected  with  it 

36  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

were  not  far  off.  Persecuted  in  Germany  by  Cath- 
olics and  Protestants,  he  sought  an  asylum  in  Am- 
sterdam, and  there  formed  the  acquaintance  of 
Manasseh  ben  Israel.  Between  these  men  and  a 
third  visionary,  Peter  Serrarius,  the  speedy  coming 
of  the  Messianic  time  was  often  the  subject  of  con- 
versation. Felgenhauer  then  composed  an  original 
work  (December,  1654)  entitled  "Good  News  of 
the  Messiah  for  Israel!  The  redemption  of  Israel 
from  all  his  sufferings,  his  deliverance  from  captiv- 
ity, and  the  glorious  advent  of  the  Messiah  are  nigh 
for  the  comfort  of  Israel.  Taken  from  the  Holy 
Scriptures  of  the  Old  and  New  Testament,  by  a 
Christian  who  is  expecting  him  with  the  Jews." 
Felgenhauer  places  the  Jewish  people  very  high,  as 
the  seed  of  Abraham,  and  considers  true  believers 
of  all  nations  the  spiritual  seed  of  Abraham.  Hence 
Jews  and  Christians  should  love,  not  despise,  one 
another.  They  should  unite  in  God.  This  union 
is  near  at  hand.  The  bloody  wars  of  nation  against 
nation  by  sea  and  land  in  the  whole  world,  which 
had  not  happened  before  to  anything  like  the  same 
extent,  are  signs  thereof.  As  further  signs  he  ac- 
counted the  comets  which  appeared  in  1618,  1648, 
and  1652,  and  the  furious  Polish  war  kindled  by  the 
Cossacks.  Verses  from  the  Bible,  especially  from 
Daniel  and  the  Apocalypse,  with  daring  interpreta- 
tions, served  him  as  proofs.  Felgenhauer  denied 
an  earthly  Messiah,  nor  did  he  allow  the  claim  of 
Jesus  to  the  title. 

As  this  half-insane  work  was  dedicated  to  Manas- 
seh, he  was  obliged  to  answer  it,  which  he  did  with 
great  prudence  (February  i,  1655),  gladly  welcom- 
ing the  pages  favorable  to  Jews,  and  passing  over 
the  rest  in  silence.  The  good  news  concerning  the 
near  future  was  the  more  welcome  to  his  heart,  he 
said,  as  he  himself,  in  spite  of  the  afflictions  of  many 
centuries,  did  not  cease  ardently  to  hope  for  better 

CH.  II.  THE    FIFTH     MONARCHY.  37 

"  How  gladly  would  I  believe  you,  that  the  time  is  near  when  God, 
who  has  so  long  been  angry  with  us,  will  again  comfort  His  people, 
and  deliver  it  from  more  than  Babylonian  captivity,  and  more  than 
Egyptian  bondage !  Your  sign  of  the  commencement  of  the  Mes- 
sianic age,  the  announcement  of  the  exaltation  of  Israel  throughout 
the  whole  world,  appears  to  me  not  only  probable,  but  plain  and 
clear.  A  not  inconsiderable  number  of  these  announcements  (on  the 
Christian  side)  for  the  consolation  of  Zion  have  been  sent  to  me  from 
Frankenberg  and  Mochinger,  from  France  and  Hungary.  And  from 
England  alone  how  many  voices  !  They  are  like  that  small  cloud  in 
the  time  of  the  prophet  Elijah,  which  suddenly  extended  so  that  it 
covered  the  whole  of  the  heavens." 

Manasseh  ben  Israel  had  the  courage  to  express 
without  ambiguity  Jewish  expectations  in  opposition 
to  the  opinions  held  by  Christian  enthusiasts.  They, 
for  the  most  part,  imagined  the  fifth  monarchy, 
which  they  alleged  was  about  to  commence,  as  the 
millennium,when  Jesus  would  again  appear  and  hand 
over  the  sovereign  power  to  the  saints.  The  Jews 
would  have  a  share  in  it ;  they  would  assemble  from 
the  ends  of  the  earth,  return  to  their  ancestral  home, 
and  again  build  Jerusalem  and  the  Temple.  But 
this  would  be  only  an  intermediate  state,  the  means 
to  enable  the  whole  Twelve  Tribes  to  acknowledge 
Jesus  as  Messiah,  so  that  there  be  but  one  flock 
under  one  shepherd.  Against  this  Manasseh  ben 
Israel  composed  a  treatise,  ended  April  25,  1655, 
on  the  fifth  kingdom  of  the  prophecy  of  Daniel, 
interpreting  it  to  mean  the  independence  of 
Israel.  In  this  work,  called  "  The  Glorious  Stone, 
or  the  Image  of  Nebuchadnezzar,"  and  dedicated  to 
Isaac  Vossius,  then  in  the  service  of  the  queen  of 
Sweden,  he  put  forth  all  his  learning  to  show  that 
the  visions  of  the  "  four  beasts,"  or  great  kingdoms, 
had  been  verified  in  the  successive  sway  of  the 
Babylonians,  Persians,  Greeks,  and  Romans,  and 
therefore  the  cominof  of  the  fifth  kingdom  also  was 


certain.  This  was  shown  in  Daniel  plainly  enough 
to  be  the  kingdom  of  Israel,  the  people  of  God.  In 
this  Messianic  kinofdom  all  nations  of  the  earth  will 


have  part,  and  they  will  be  treated  with  kindness, 
but  the  authority  will  ever  rest  with  Israel.  Manas- 

38  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

sell  disfigured  this  simple  thought  by  Kabbalistic 
triviality  and  sophistry.  It  is  singular  that  not  only 
did  a  learned  Christian  accept  the  dedication  of  this 
essentially  Jewish  work,  but  the  celebrated  painter 
Rembrandt  supplied  four  artistic  engravings  repre- 
senting Nebuchadnezzar's,  or  Manasseh's  vision. 

Manasseh  had  received  a  friendly  invitation  from 
the  second  Parliament  assembled  by  Cromwell ;  but 
as  it  had  meanwhile  been  dissolved,  he  could  not 
begin  his  journey  until  invited  by  the  Protector 
himself.  He  seems  to  have  sent  on  in  advance  his 
son,  Samuel  ben  Israel,  who  was  presented  by  the 
University  of  Oxford,  in  consideration  of  his  knowl- 
edge and  natural  gifts,  with  the  degree  of  doctor  of 
philosophy  and  medicine,  and  according  to  custom, 
received  the  gold  ring,  the  biretta,  and  the  kiss  of 
peace.  It  was  no  insignificant  circumstance  that 
this  honor  should  be  conferred  upon  a  Jew  by  a 
university  strictly  Christian  in  its  conduct.  Crom- 
well's will  appears  to  have  been  decisive  in  the 
matter.  He  sent  an  invitation  to  Manasseh,  but  the 
journey  was  delayed  till  autumn.  Not  till  the  end 
of  the  Tishri  festivals  (October  25-31,  1655)  did 
Manasseh  undertake  the  important  voyage  to  Lon- 
don, in  his  view,  of  the  utmost  consequence  to  the 
world.  He  was  received  in  a  friendly  manner  by 
Cromwell,  and  had  a  residence  granted  him. 
Among  his  companions  was  Jacob  Sasportas,  a 
learned  man,  accustomed  to  intercourse  with  per- 
sons of  high  rank,  who  had  been  rabbi  in  African 
cities.  Other  Jews  accompanied  him  in  the  hope 
that  the  admission  of  Jews  would  meet  with  no  diffi- 
culty. Some  secret  Jews  from  Spain  and  Portugal 
were  already  domiciled  in  London,  among  them 
being  the  rich  and  respected  Fernandez  Carvajal. 
But  the  matter  did  not  admit  of  such  speedy  settle- 
ment. At  an  audience,  Manasseh  delivered  to  the 
Protector  a  carefully  composed  petition,  or  address. 
He  had  obtained  the  authorization  of  the  Jews  of 

CH.   II.  MANASSEH    BEN    ISRAEL    IN    LONDON.  39 

the  different  countries  of  Europe  to  act  as  their 
representative,  so  that  the  admission  of  Jews  into 
England  might  be  urged  not  in  his  own  name  alone, 
but  in  that  of  the  whole  Jewish  nation.  In  his  peti- 
tion he  skillfully  developed  the  argument,  by  means 
of  passages  from  the  Bible  and  the  Talmud,  that 
power  and  authority  are  conferred  by  God  according 
to  his  will ;  that  God  rewards  and  punishes  even  the 
rulers  of  the  earth,  and  that  this  had  been  verified  in 
Jewish  history;  that  great  monarchs  who  had  trou- 
bled Israel  had  met  with  an  unhappy  end,  as 
Pharaoh,  Nebuchadnezzar,  Antiochus  Epiphanes, 
Pompey,  and  others.  On  the  other  hand,  benefac- 
tors of  the  Jewish  nation  had  enjoyed  happiness 
'even  here  below,  so  that  the  word  of  God  to 
Abraham  had  been  literally  fulfilled  : — 

"  '  I  will  bless  them  that  bless  thee.and  curse  them  that  curse  thee.' 
Hence  I,  one  of  the  least  among  the  Hebrews,  since  by  experience  I 
have  found,  that  through  God's  great  bounty  towards  us,  many  con- 
siderable and  eminent  persons  both  of  piety  and  power  are  moved 
with  sincere  and  inward  pity  and  compassion  towards  us,  and  do 
comfort  us  concerning  the  approaching  Deliverance  of  Israel,  could 
not  but  for  myself,  and  in  the  behalf  of  my  countrymen,  make  this  my 
humble  Address  to  your  Highness,  and  beseech  you  for  God's  sake 
that  ye  would,  according  to  that  piety  and  power  wherein  you  are 
eminent  beyond  others,  vouchsafe  to  grant  that  the  great  and  glorious 
name  of  the  Lord  our  God  may  be  extolled,  and  solemnly  worshiped 
and  praised  by  us  through  all  the  bounds  of  this  Commonwealth  ;  and 
to  grant  us  place  in  your  country,  that  we  may  have  our  Synagogues, 
and  free  exercise  of  our  religion.  Pagans  have  of  old  ....  granted 
free  liberty  even  to  apostate  Jews  :  .  .  .  .  how  much  more  then  may 
we,  that  are  not  Apostate  or  runagate  Jews,  hope  it  from  your  High- 
ness and  your  Christian  Council,  since  you  have  so  great  knowledge 
of,  and  adore  the  same  one  only  God  of  Israel,  together  with  us.  ... 
For  our  people  did  ....  presage  that  ....  the  ancient  hatred 
towards  them  would  also  be  changed  into  goodwill :  that  those 
rigorous  laws  ....  against  so  innocent  a  people  would  happily  be 

At  the  same  time  Manasseh  ben  Israel  circulated 
through  the  press  a  "  Declaration  "  which  served  to 
explain  the  reasons  for  admitting  Jews,  and  to  meet 
objections  and  allay  prejudices  against  their  admis- 
sion. All  his  reasons  can  be  reduced  to  two — one 
mystical  and  one  of  trade  policy.  The  mystical 

4<D  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

reason  has  been  repeatedly  explained.  His  opinion 
coincided  with  that  of  many  Christians,  that  the 
return  of  the  Israelites  to  their  home  was  near  at 
hand.  According  to  his  view  the  general  disper- 
sion of  the  Jews  must  precede  this  event : — 

"  Now  we  know  how  our  nation  is  spread  all  about,  and  has  its  seat 
and  dwelling  in  the  most  flourishing-  countries  of  the  world,  as  well 
in  America  as  in  the  other  three  parts  thereof,  except  only  in  this 
considerable  and  mighty  island.  And  therefore,  before  the  Messiah 
come  ....  first  we  must  have  our  seat  here  likewise." 

The  other  reason  was  put  in  this  form  :  that  through 
the  Jews  the  trade  of  England  would  greatly 
increase  in  exports  and  imports  from  all  parts  of 
the  world.  He  developed  this  point  of  the  advan- 
tage which  the  Jews  might  bestow  at  great  length, 
showing  that  on  account  of  their  fidelity  and  attach- 
ment to  the  countries  hospitable  and  friendly  to 
them  they  deserved  to  be  treated  with  consideration. 
Besides,  they  ought  to  be  esteemed,  on  account  of 
their  ancient  nobility  and  purity  of  blood,  among  a 
people  which  attached  importance  to  such  distinc- 

Manasseh  ben  Israel  considered  the  commerce 
to  which  Jews  were  for  the  most  part  devoted  from 
a  higher  point  of  view.  He  had  in  mind  the  whole- 
sale trade  of  the  Portuguese  Jews  of  Holland  in 
the  coin  of  various  nations  (exchange  business),  in 
diamonds,  cochineal,  indigo,  wine,  and  oil.  Their 
money  transactions  were  not  based  on  usury,  on 
which  the  Jews  of  Germany  and  Poland  relied. 
The  Amsterdam  Jews  deposited  their  capital  in 
banks,  and  satisfied  themselves  with  five  per  cent 
interest.  The  capital  of  the  Portuguese  Jews  in 
Holland  and  Italy  was  very  considerable,  because 
Marranos  in  Spain  and  Portugal  invested  their 
money  with  them,  to  evade  the  avarice  of  the  Inqui- 
sition. Hence  Manasseh  laid  great  weight  on  the 
advantages  which  England  might  expect  from  his 
enterprising  countrymen.  He  thought  that  trading, 


the  chief  occupation,  and,  to  a  certain  extent,  the 
natural  inclination,  of  the  Jews  of  all  countries  since 
their  dispersion,  was  the  work  of  Providence,  a  mark 
of  divine  favor  towards  them,  that  by  accumulated 
treasures  they  might  find  grace  in  the  eyes  of  rulers 
and  nations.  They  were  forced  to  occupy  them- 
selves with  commerce,  because,  owing  to  the  insecu- 
rity of  their  existence,  they  could  not  possess  landed 
estates.  Accordingly,  they  were  obliged  to  pursue 
trade  till  their  return  to  their  land,  for  then  "  there 
shall  be  no  more  any  trader  in  the  house  of  the 
Lord,"  as  a  prophet  declares. 

Manasseh  ben  Israel  then  took  a  survey  over  all 
the  countries  where  Jews,  in  his  time,  or  shortly 
before,  by  means  of  trade,  had  attained  to  import- 
ance, and  enumerated  the  persons  who  had  risen  to 
high  positions  by  their  services  to  states  or  rulers. 
However,  much  that  he  adduced,  when  closely  con- 
sidered, is  not  very  brilliant,  with  the  exception  of 
the  esteemed  and  secure  position  which  the  Jews 
occupied  in  Holland.  Then  he  quoted  examples  of 
the  fidelity  and  devotedness  of  Jews  in  ancient  and 
modern  times  towards  their  protectors.  He  forcibly 
refuted  the  calumny  that  the  Jews  had  been  banished 
from  Spain  and  Portugal  for  treachery  and  faithless- 
ness. It  was  easy  for  him  to  show  from  Christian 
authors  that  the  expulsion  of  the  Jews,  and  their 
cruel  treatment  by  Portugal,  were  at  once  criminal 
and  foolish,  and  most  emphatically  condemned  by 
wise  rulers.  He,  took  occasion  to  defend  his  breth- 
ren against  three  other  charges :  usury,  child  mur- 
der, and  proselytism.  To  wipe  off  the  stain  of 
usury,  he  made  use  of  the  justification  employed  by 
Simone  Luzzatto,  a  contemporary  Jewish  Italian 
author,  that  usury  was  objectionable  not  in  itself,  but 
in  its  excess.  Of  great  weight  was  the  fact  which 
he  adduced,  that  the  Portuguese  Jews,  for  whom  he 
was  pleading,  abhorred  usury  as  much  as  many 
Christians,  and  that  their  large  capital  had  not  been 

42  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  II. 

obtained  from  it.  Manasseh  could  repudiate  with 
more  vehemence  the  charge  of  murdering  Christian 
children.  Christians  made  the  accusation,he  thought, 
pretty  much  from  the  motives  that  influenced  the 
negroes  of  Guinea  and  Brazil,  who  tormented  those 
just  escaped  from  shipwreck,  or  visited  by  mis- 
fortune in  general,  by  assuming  that  such  persons 
were  accursed  of  God. 

"We  live  not  amongst  the  Black-moors  and  wild-men,  but  amongst 
the  white  and  civilized  people  of  the  world,  yet  we  find  this  an  ordi- 
nary course,  that  men  are  very  prone  to  hate  and  despise  him  that 
hath  ill  fortune  ;  and  on  the  other  side,  to  make  much  of  those  whom 
fortune  doth  favor." 

Manasseh  reminded  the  Christians  that  there  had 
been  a  time  when  they,  too,  had  been  charged  by 
heathens  with  being  murderers  of  children,  sorcerers, 
and  conjurers,  and  had  been  punished  by  heathen 
emperors  and  officials.  He  was  able  to  refer  to  a 
case  of  his  own  time,  that  of  Isaac  Jeshurun,  of 
Ragusa,  a  Jew  repeatedly  tortured  for  child  murder, 
whose  innocence  had  come  to  light,  and  filled  the 
judges  with  remorse.  Manasseh  denied  the  accu- 
sation of  the  conversion  of  Christians  to  Judaism, 
and  referred  to  the  injunction  of  the  Jewish  law  to 
dissuade  rather  than  attract  proselytes. 

"Now,  because  I  believe,  that  with  a  good  conscience  I  have  dis- 
charged our  nation  of  the  Jews  of  those  three  slanders.  .  .  I  may 
from  these  two  qualities,  of  Profitableness  and  Fidelity,  conclude, 
that  such  a  nation  ought  to  be  well  entertained,  and  also  beloved  and 
protected  generally  of  all.  The  more,  considering  they  are  called  in 

the  Sacred  Scriptures  the  sons  of  God I  could  add  a 

third  (point),  viz.,  of  the  Nobility  of  the  Jews,  but  because  that  point 
is  enough  known  amongst  all  Christians,  as  lately  it  has  been  shown 

...  by  that  worthy  Christian  minister,  Mr.  Henry  Jessey  .  .  . 
and  by  Mr.  Eclw.  Nicholas,  Gentleman.  Therefore  I  will  here  forbear 
and  rest  on  the  saying  of  Solomon  ....  'Let  another  man's  mouth 
praise  thee,  and  not  thine  own.'  " 

Cromwell  was  decidedly  inclined  to  the  admission 
of  the  Jews.  He  may  have  had  in  view  the  prob- 
ability that  the  extensive  trade  and  capital  of  the 
Spanish  and  Portuguese  Jews,  those  professing  Juda- 

CH.   II.  CROMWELL    AND    THE    JEWS.  43 

ism  openly  as  well  as  secretly,  might  be  brought  to 
England,  which  at  that  time  could  not  yet  compete 
with  Holland.  He  was  also  animated  by  the  great 
idea  of  the  unconditional  toleration  of  all  religions, 
and  even  thought  of  granting  religious  freedom  to 
the  intensely  hated,  feared,  hence  persecuted  Cath- 
olics. Therefore,  he  acceded  to  the  wish  of  the 
Jews  to  open  an  asylum  to  them  in  England.  But 
he  was  most  influenced  by  the  religious  desire  to 
win  over  the  Jews  to  Christianity  by  friendly  treat- 
ment. He  thought  that  Christianity,  as  preached 
in  England  by  the  Independents,  without  idolatry 
and  superstition,  would  captivate  the  Jews,  hitherto 
deterred  from  Christianity. 

Cromwell  and  Manasseh  ben  Israel  agreed  in  an 
unexpressed,  visionary,  Messianic  reason  for  the 
admission  of  Jews  into  England.  The  Kabbalistic 
rabbi  thought  that  in  consequence  of  the  settlement 
of  Jews  in  the  British  island,  the  Messianic  redemp- 
tion would  commence,  and  the  Puritan  Protector 
believed  that  Jews  in  great  numbers  would  accept 
Christianity,  and  then  would  come  the  time  of  one 
shepherd  and  one  flock.  To  dispose  the  people 
favorably  towards  the  Jews,  Cromwell  employed  two 
most  zealous  Independents,  his  secretary,  the  clergy- 
man Hugh  Peters,  and  Harry  Marten,  the  fiery 
member  of  the  Council,  to  labor  at  the  task. 

At  last  the  time  came  to  consider  the  question  of 
the  admission  of  Jews  seriously.  They  had  been 
banished  in  the  year  1290  in  pursuance  of  a  decree 
enacting  that  they  should  never  return,  and  it  was 
questionable  whether  the  decree  was  not  still  in 
force.  Therefore,  Cromwell  assembled  a  commis- 
sion at  Whitehall  (December  4,  1655),  to  discuss 
every  aspect  of  the  matter.  The  commission  was 
composed  of  Lord  Chief  Justice  Glynn,  Lord  Chief 
Baron  Steel,  and  seven  citizens,  including  the  Lord 
Mayor,  the  two  sheriffs  of  London,  an  alderman,  and 
the  recorder  of  the  city,  and  fourteen  eminent  cler- 

44  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.    II. 

gymen  of  different  towns.  Cromwell  mentioned  two 
subjects  for  discussion  :  whether  it  was  lawful  to 
admit  Jews  into  England,  and,  in  case  it  was  not 
opposed  to  the  law,  under  what  conditions  the 
admission  should  take  place.  Manasseh  had  formu- 
lated his  proposal  under  seven  heads  :  that  they 
should  be  admitted  and  protected  against  violence  ; 
that  they  should  be  granted  synagogues,  the  free 
exercise  of  religion,  and  places  of  burial ;  that  they 
should  enjoy  freedom  of  trade  ;  and  that  their  dis- 
putes should  be  settled  by  their  own  rabbis  and 
directors ;  and  that  all  former  laws  hostile  to 
Jews  should  be  repealed  for  their  greater  security. 
On  admission,  every  Jew  should  take  the  oath  of 
fidelity  to  the  realm. 

There  was  great  excitement  in  London  during  the 
discussion  on  the  admission  of  the  Jews,  and  pop- 
ular feeling  was  much  divided.  Blind  hatred  against 
the  crucifiers  of  the  Son  of  God,  and  blind  love  for 
the  people  of  God ;  fear  of  the  competition  of  Jews 
in  trade,  and  hope  of  gaining  the  precedence  from 
the  Dutch  and  Spaniards  by  their  means,  prejudiced 
ideas  that  they  crucified  Christian  children,  clipped 
coin, or  wished  to  make  all  the  English  people  Jews— 
these  conflicting  feelings  disturbed  the  judgment 
for  and  against  them.  Cromwell's  followers,  and 
the  Republicans  in  general,  were  for  their  admis- 
sion ;  Royalists  and  Papists,  secretly  or  openly  his 
enemies,  were  opposed  to  the  proposal.  The  people 
crowded  to  the  hall  where  the  Jewish  question  was 
publicly  discussed.  At  the  very  beginning  the  legal 
representatives  declared  that  no  ancient  law  ex- 
cluded the  Jews  from  England,  for  their  banishment 
had  been  enacted  by  the  king,  without  the  consent 
of  Parliament.  The  city  representatives  remained 
silent ;  the  most  violent  were  the  clergy,  who  could 
not  rid  themselves  of  their  hatred  against  Jews, 
derived  from  the  gospels  and  their  theological  liter- 
ature. Cromwell,  who  most  earnestly  wished  to  see 

CH.   II.  THE    JEWISH    QUESTION    IN    LONDON.  45 

them  admitted,  therefore  added  three  clergymen, 
among  them  Hugh  Peters,  from  whom  he  expected 
a  vote  favorable  to  the  Jews.  The  question  was  not 
brought  to  a  decision  in  three  sittings.  Cromwell 
therefore  ordered  a  final  discussion  (December  18, 
1655),  at  which  he  presided.  The  majority  of  the 
clergy  on  this  day,  too,  were  against  the  admission 
of  Jews,  even  the  minority  favoring  it  only  with  due 
precautions.  Cromwell,  dissatisfied  with  the  course 
of  the  discussion,  first  had  the  theological  objections 
refuted  by  Manasseh  ben  Israel,  then  expressed  him- 
self with  much  warmth,  and  reprimanded  the  clergy. 
He  said  that  he  had  hoped  to  receive  enlighten- 
ment for  his  conscience ;  instead,  they  had  made 
the  question  more  obscure.  The  main  strength  of 
his  arguments  was  :  The  pure  (Puritan)  gospel  must 
be  preached  to  the  Jews,  to  win  them  to  the  church. 
"  But  can  we  preach  to  them,  if  we  will  not  tolerate 
them  among  us  ?  "  Cromwell  thereupon  closed  the 
discussion,  and  resolved  to  decide  the  matter  accord- 
ing to  his  own  judgment. 

He  had  not  only  the  opposition  of  the  fanatical 
clergy  to  contend  against,  but  also  that  of  the  multi- 
tude, who  shared  their  prejudiced  feeling.  The 
enemies  of  the  Jews  made  every  effort  to  win  over 
the  people  against  their  admission.  They  spread 
the  report  that  the  Jews  intended  to  buy  the  library 
of  the  University  of  Oxford,  and,  if  possible,  turn  St. 
Paul's  into  a  synagogue.  They  sought  to  bring 
Cromwell's  friendship  for  the  Jews  under  suspicion, 
and  circulated  the  report  that  an  embassy  had  come 
to  England  from  Asia  and  Prague  to  find  out 
whether  Cromwell  was  not  the  expected  Messiah  of 
the  Jews.  A  clerical  pamphleteer,  named  William 
Prynne,  stirred  up  a  most  fanatical  excitement 
against  the  Jews.  He  composed  a  venomous  work, 
"  A  Short  Demurrer,"  in  which  he  raked  up  all  false 
accusations  against  them  of  counterfeit  coining,  and 
the  crucifixion  of  Christian  children,  and  briefly 

46  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

summarized  the  anti-Jewish  decrees  of  the  thirteenth 
century,  so  as  to  make  the  name  of  Jew  hated. 
From  other  quarters,  also,  various  publications 
appeared  against  them.  John  Hoornbeek,  a  Dutch- 
man, composed  a  book  on  the  conversion  of  the 
Jews,  in  which  he  pretended  to  be  their  friend,  but 
actually  sought  to  asperse  them.  John  Dury,  an 
Englishman  residing  at  the  time  at  Cassel,  was  also 
resolved  to  make  his  voice  heard  about  the  Jews  ; 
he  weighed  arguments  for  and  against  their  admis- 
sion, and  at  last  inclined  to  the  view  that  it  was  a 
serious  matter  to  permit  Jews  to  enter  England. 
His  work  was  printed  and  distributed.  Probably  at 
Cromwell's  suggestion,  Thomas  Collier  wrote  a 
refutation  of  Prynne's  charges,  dedicating  it  to  the 
Protector.  He  even  justified  the  crucifixion  of  Jesus 
by  the  Jews,  and  concluded  his  work  with  a  passage 
in  the  taste  of  that  time  : 

"  Oh,  let  us  respect  them;  let  us  wait  for  that  glorious  day  which 
will  make  them  the  head  of  the  nations.  Oh,  the  time  is  at  hand 
when  every  one  shall  think  himself  happy  that  can  but  lay  hold  on 
the  skirt  of  a  Jew.  Our  salvation  came  from  them!  Our  Jesus  was 
of  them!  We  are  gotten  into  their  promises  and  privileges!  The 
natural  branches  were  cut  off,  that  we  might  be  grafted  on!  Oh,  let 
us  not  be  high-minded,  but  fear.  Let  us  not,  for  God's  sake,  be  un- 
merciful to  them!  No  !  let  it  be  enough  if  we  have  all  their  [spirit- 
ual] riches." 

While  the  admission  of  Jews  met  with  so  many 
difficulties  in  England,  the  Dutch  Government  was 
by  no  means  pleased  with  Manasseh  ben  Israel's 
efforts  to  bring  it  to  pass,  fearing,  doubtless,  that  the 
Amsterdam  Jews  would  remove  to  England,  with  all 
their  capital.  Manasseh  was  obliged  to  pacify  the 
Dutch  ambassador  in  an  interview,  and  to  assure 
him  that  his  exertions  concerned  not  Dutch  Jews, 
but  ^  the  Marranos,  watched  with  Argus  eyes  in 
Spain  and  Portugal,  for  whom  he  wished  to  provide 
an  asylum.  Manasseh  waited  six  months  in  Lon- 
don to  obtain  from  Cromwell  a  favorable  decision, 
but  without  success.  The  Protector  found  no  leis- 


ure  to  attend  to  the  Jewish  question,  his  energies 
were  devoted  to  obtaining  the  funds  necessary  for 
the  government  and  foreign  wars,  refused  by  one 
Parliament  after  another,  and  to  frustrating  the 
royalist  conspiracy  against  his  life.  Manasseh's 
companions,  who  had  given  up  all  hopes  of  success, 
left  London ;  others  who,  having  fled  from  the 
Pyrenean  peninsula,  were  on  their  way  thither, 
turned  back,  and  settled  in  Italy  or  Geneva. 

But  the  friends  of  the  Jews  were  unwearied,  and 
hoped  to  produce  a  change  of  mind  in  the  people. 
One  of  "  the  saints"  published  a  small  work  (April, 
1656),  in  which  he  briefly  summarized  the  proceed- 
ings at  the  discussion  on  the  admission  of  Jews,  and 
then  added  : 

"  What  shall  be  the  issue  of  this,  the  most  high  God  knoweth; 
Rabbi  Manasseh  ben  Israel  still  remains  in  London,  desiring  a  favor- 
able answer  to  his  proposals;  and  not  receiving  it,  he  hath  desired,  that 
if  they  may  not  be  granted,  he  may  have  a  favorable  dismission,  and 
return  home.  But  other  great  affairs  being  now  in  hand,  and  this 
being  business  of  very  great  concernment,  no  absolute  answer  is  yet 
returned  to  him." 

To  elicit  a  thorough  refutation  of  all  the  charges 
advanced  by  the  enemies  of  the  Jews  and  the  oppo- 
nents of  toleration,  a  person  of  high  rank,  in  close 
relation  with  the  government,  induced  Manasseh 
ben  Israel  to  publish  a  brief  but  comprehensive 
work,  in  defense  of  the  Jews.  In  the  form  of  a  let- 
ter he  stated  all  the  grounds  of  accusation.  These 
included  the  current  slanders :  the  use  of  the  blood 
of  Christians  at  the  Passover,  curses  upon  Chris- 
tians and  blasphemy  against  the  God  of  the  Chris- 
tians in  Jewish  prayers,  and  the  idolatrous  reverence 
alleged  to  be  shown  the  Torah-scrolls.  The  de- 
fense of  the  Jews,  which  Manasseh  ben  Israel  com- 
posed in  reply  (April  10),  and  which  was  soon  after- 
wards circulated  through  the  press,  is  perhaps  the 
best  work  from  his  pen.  It  is  written  with  deep 
feeling,  and  is,  therefore,  convincing  ;  learned  matter 
is  not  wanting,  but  the  learning  is  subordinate  to 

48  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

the  main  object.  In  the  composition  of  this  defense 
Manasseh  must  have  had  peculiar  feelings.  He 
had  come  to  England  the  interpreter  or  represen- 
tative of  the  people  of  God,  expecting  speedily  to 
conquer  the  sympathy  of  Christians,  and  pave  the 
way  for  the  lordship  of  Israel  over  the  world, 
and  now  his  people  was  placed  at  the  bar,  and  he 
had  to  defend  it.  Hence  the  tone  of  this  work  is 
not  aggressive  and  triumphant,  but  plaintive.  He 
affirmed  that  nothing  had  ever  produced  a  deeper 
impression  on  his  mind  than  the  letter  addressed 
to  him  with  the  list  of  anti-Jewish  charges. 

"  It  reflects  upon  the  credit  of  a  nation,  which  amongst  so  many 
calumnies,  so  manifest  (and  therefore  shameful),  I  dare  to  pronounce 
innocent.  And  in  the  first  place,  I  cannot  but  weep  bitterly,  and 
with  much  anguish  of  soul  lament,  that  strange  and  horrid  accusation 
of  some  Christians  against  the  dispersed  and  afflicted  Jews  that  dwell 
among  them,  when  they  say  (what  I  tremble  to  write)  that  the  Jews 
are  wont  to  celebrate  the  Feast  of  Unleavened  Bread,  fermenting  it 
with  the  blood  of  some  Christians  whom  they  have  for  that  purpose 

To  this  false  charge  so  often  made,  among  others 
by  Prynne,  the  greatest  part  of  his  defense  is 
devoted,  and  it  is  indeed  striking.  He  traced  the 
accusation  to  false  witnesses  or  the  confession  of 
accused  persons  under  torture.  The  innocence  of 
the  accused  was  often  brought  to  light,  but  too  late, 
when  they  had  been  executed.  Manasseh  confirmed 
this  by  an  entertaining  story.  The  physician  of  a  Por- 
tuguese count  had  been  charged  by  the  Inquisition  as 
a  Judaizing  Christian.  In  vain  the  count  pledged 
himself  for  his  orthodoxy,  he  was  nevertheless  tor- 
tured, and  himself  confessed  that  he  was  a  Judaizing 
sinner.  Subsequently  the  count,  pretending  serious 
illness,  sent  for  the  inquisitor,  and  in  his  house,  with 
doors  closed,  he  commanded  him  in  a  threatening 
tone  to  confess  in  writing  that  he  was  a  Jew.  The 
inquisitor  refused  ;  then  a  servant  brought  in  a  red- 
hot  helmet  to  put  upon  his  head.  Thereupon  the 
inquisitor  confessed  everything  demanded  by  the 

CH.  II.  "  VINDICI/E    JUD/EORUM."  49 

count,  who  took  this  opportunity  to  reproach  him 
with  his  cruelty  and  inhumanity. 

Manasseh  ben  Israel  besides  affirmed  with  a  sol- 
emn oath  the  absolute  falsehood  of  the  oft-repeated 
charges  as  to  the  use  of  Christian  blood. 

After  meeting  the  other  accusations  against  the 
Jews,  he  concludes  his  defense  with  a  fine  prayer  and 
an  address  to  England  : 

"  And  to  the  highly  honored  nation  of  England  I  make  my  most 
humble  request,  that  they  would  read  over  my  arguments  impartially, 
without  prejudice  and  devoid  of  all  passion,  effectually  recommending 
me  to  their  grace  and  favor,  and  earnestly  beseeching  God  that  He 
would  be  pleased  to  hasten  the  time  promised  by  Zephaniah,  wherein 
we  shall  all  serve  him  with  one  consent,  after  the  same  manner,  and 
shall  be  all  of  the  same  judgment  ;  that  as  his  name  is  one,  so  his  fear 
may  be  also  one,  and  that  we  may  all  see  the  goodness  of  the  Lord 
(blessed  for  ever  !)  and  the  consolations  of  Zion." 

This  last  work  of  Manasseh  ben  Israel  produced 
in  England  the  favorable  effect  desired.  Though 
Cromwell,  amidst  the  increasing  difficulties  of  his 
government,  could  not  fully  carry  out  the  admission 
of  the  Jews,  he  made  a  beginning  towards  it.  He 
dismissed  Manasseh  with  honorable  distinctions,  and 
granted  him  a  yearly  allowance  of  one  hundred 
pounds  (February  20,  1657)  out  of  the  public  treas- 
ury. The  Jews  were  not  admitted  in  triumph 
through  the  great  portal,  but  they  were  let  in  by 
Cromwell  through  a  back  door,  yet  they  established 
themselves  firmly.  This  was  in  consequence  of  an 
indictment  brought  against  an  immigrant  Marrano 
merchant,  Antonio  Robles,  that  he,  a  Portuguese 
Papist,  had  illegally  engaged  in  business  pursuits  in 
England,  but  he  was  acquitted  by  the  Protector  on 
the  ground  that  he  was  not  a  Catholic,  but  a  Jew. 
Thus  the  residence  of  such  Jews  was  suffered  ;  they 
could  therefore  drop  the  mask  of  Catholicism.  Two 
respected  Marranos,  Simon  de  Caceres  and  Fer- 
nandez (Isaac)  Carvajal,  in  fact  received  Cromwell's 
permission  to  open  a  special  burial-ground  for  the 
Sephardic  Jews  settled  in  London  (1657).  In  con- 

50  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   II. 

sequence  of  this  permission  it  was  no  longer  neces- 
sary to  make  a  show  of  attending  church  or  of 
having  their  newly-born  children  baptized.  But  they 
occupied  an  anomalous  position.  Being  strangers, 
and  on  account  of  their  insignificant  numbers,  they 
lived  not  exactly  on  sufferance,  but  were  ignored. 
Thus  Manasseh  ben  Israel's  endeavors  were  not 
entirely  vain.  He  did  not  draw  the  pension 
awarded  him,  nor  did  he  live  to  witness  the  coming 
up  of  the  seed  scattered  by  him,  for  on  the  way 
home  he  died,  at  Middelburg,  probably  broken  down 
by  his  exertions  and  the  disappointment  of  his  hopes, 
even  before  he  reached  his  family  (November,  1657). 
His  body  was  afterwards  brought  to  Amsterdam, 
and  an  honorable  epitaph  was  put  over  his  grave. 
But  his  zealous  activity,  outcome  though  it  was  of 
Messianic  delusions,  bore  fruit,  because  it  was  sin- 
cere. Before  he  had  been  dead  ten  years,  Jews 
were  gradually  admitted  into  England  by  the  mon- 
archy which  succeeded  the  republic.  A  community 
was  assembled  which  soon  became  organized,  a 
room  was  fitted  up  in  King  street  as  a  synagogue, 
and  Jacob  Sasportas,  the  wanderer  from  Africa, 
Manasseh  ben  Israel's  companion,  was  chosen  rabbi. 
The  branch  community  of  London  took  as  its  model 
that  of  Amsterdam.  From  this  second  stronghold, 
occupied  by  Portuguese  Jews,  afterwards  proceeded 
the  agitation  for  popular  freedom  and  the  liberation 
of  the  Jews. 



Condition  of  Judaism — Complete  Triumph  of  the  Kabbala — The  Dis- 
ciples of  Isaac  Lurya — Vital  Calabrese,  Abraham  de  Herrera, 
and  Isaiah  Hurwitz — Immanuel  Aboab — Uriel  da  Costa  ;  his 
Career  and  Death — Leo  Modena;  his  Character  and  his  Writings 
— Deborah  Ascarelli  and  Sarah  Copia  Sullam,  Jewish  Author- 
esses— Leo  Modena's  veiled  Scepticism — The  Travels  and  Influ- 
ence of  Joseph  Delmedigo — The  Writings  of  Simone  Luzzatto. 

l62O — l66o  C.  E. 

JUDAISM,  then  in  its  three  thousandth  year,  was  like 
a  rich  kernel,  covered  and  concealed  by  crusts  de- 
posited one  upon  another,  and  by  extraneous  mat- 
ter, so  that  only  very  few  could  recognize  its  true 
character.  The  Sinaitic  and  prophetic  kernel  of 
thought  had  long  been  covered  over  with  the  three- 
fold layer  of  Sopheric,  Mishnic,  and  Talmudical 
explanations  and  restrictions.  Over  these,  in  the 
course  of  centuries,  new  layers  had  been  formed  by 
the  Gaonic,  Spanish,  French,  German,  and  Polish 
schools,  and  these  layers  and  strata  were  enclosed 
by  an  unsightly  growth  of  fungus  forms,  the  mouldy 
coating  of  the  Kabbala,  which,  settling  in  the  gaps 
and  chinks,  grew  and  ramified.  All  these  new  forms 
had  already  the  authority  of  age  in  their  favor,  and 
were  considered  inviolable.  People  no  longer  asked 
what  was  taught  in  the  fundamental  Sinaitic  law,  or 
what  was  considered  of  importance  by  the  prophets  ; 
they  scarcely  regarded  what  the  Talmud  decided  to 
be  essential  or  non-essential ;  the  Rabbinical  writers 
alone,  Joseph  Karo  and  Moses  Isserles  being  the 
highest  authorities,  decided  what  was  Judaism.  Be- 
sides, there  were  superadditions  from  the  Polish 
schools,  and  lastly  the  Kabbalistic  dreams  of  Isaac 

52  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

Lurya.  The  parasitic  Kabbala  choked  the  whole 
religious  life  of  the  Jews.  Almost  all  rabbis  and 
leaders  of  Jewish  communities,  whether  in  small 
Polish  towns  or  in  cultivated  Amsterdam,  the  Cha- 
cham  Isaac  Aboab  de  Fonseca,  as  well  as  Isaiah 
Hurwitz,  the  emigrant  to  Palestine,  were  ensnared 
by  the  Kabbala.  Gaining  influence  in  the  fourteenth 
century,  contemporaneously  with  the  ban  against 
science,  it  had  made  such  giant  strides  since  Isaac 
Lurya's  death,  or  rather  committed  such  gigantic 
ravages,  that  nothing  could  keep  it  in  check. 
Lurya's  wild  notions  of  the  origin,  transmigration, 
and  union  of  souls,  of  redemption,  and  wonder- 
working, after  his  death  attracted  more  and  more 
adherents  into  his  magic  circle,  clouding  their  minds 
and  narrowing  their  sympathies. 

Lurya's  disciples,  the  lion's  whelps,  as  they  boast- 
fully called  themselves,  made  systematic  efforts  to  ef- 
fect conversions,  circulated  most  absurd  stories  about 
Lurya's  miracles,  gave  out  that  their  master's  spirit 
hadcomeuponthem,andshrouded  themselves  in  mys- 
tery, in  order  to  attract  greater  attention.  Chayim 
Vital  Calabrese  had  been  most  prominent,  and  with 
his  juggleries  deluded  the  credulous  in  Palestine  and 
the  neighboring  countries  (1572-1620)  till  his  death. 
He  claimed  to  be  the  Ephraimitic  Messiah,  and 
therefore  assumed  a  sort  of  authority  over  his  fellow- 
disciples.  In  Jerusalem,  where  he  resided  for  sev- 
eral years,  Vital  preached,  and  had  visions,  but  did 
not  meet  with  the  recognition  he  expected.  Only 
women  said  that  they  had  seen  a  pillar  of  fire  or  the 
prophet  Elijah  hovering  over  Vital  while  he  preached. 

In  Safet,  Vital,  imitating  his  master,  visited  graves, 
carried  on  exorcism  of  spirits,  and  other  mystic 
follies,  but  not  living  on  good  terms  with  his  col- 
leagues, especially  his  brother-in-law,  Gedaliah 
Levi,  of  whom  he  was  jealous,  he  settled  at 
Damascus  (1594-1620),  continued  his  mystifications, 
affected  great  personal  importance,  as  if  the  salva- 


tion  of  the  world  rested  on  his  shoulders,  and 
preached  the  speedy  appearance  of  the  Messiah, 
and  his  mission  to  hasten  it.  Jesus  and  Mahom- 
et, repenting  their  errors,  would  lay  their  crowns  at 
his  feet.  Ridiculed  on  account  of  his  wild  proceed- 
ings, and  declared  to  be  a  false  prophet,  he  took 
vengeance  on  his  detractors  by  gross  slanders. 

In  old  age  he  continued  his  mystical  nonsense, 
saying  that  he  had  been  forbidden  to  reveal  his  vis- 
ions, but  this  prohibition  having  been  withdrawn,  he 
could  now  announce  that  certain  souls  living  in 
human  bodies  would  be  united  to  him — of  course,  in 
a  subordinate  capacity — to  bring  about  the  redemp- 
tion, one  of  the  souls  destined  for  this  mission  being 
in  a  foreign  country.  This  was  a  bait  to  attract 
Kabbala  enthusiasts,  and  thus  secure  a  following. 
And  enthusiasts  hastened  from  Italy,  Germany, 
Poland,  and  other  countries  to  play  a  Messianic  part. 
The  manuscript  notes  left  by  Lurya  gave  rise  to 
further  frauds.  Vital  asserted  that  he  alone  was  in 
possession  of  them,  and  obtained  a  decree  from  the 
college  at  Safet,  declaring  that  no  one  was  author- 
ized to  publish  information  about  Lurya's  Kabbala 
elsewhere.  Kabbalists  became  the  more  anxious 
to  possess  this  incomparable  treasure.  Chayim 
Vital's  brother,  Moses  Vital,  took  advantage  of  their 
eagerness  to  make  a  good  business  of  it.  During 
an  illness  of  his  brother's,  he  caused  the  writings 
found  at  his  house  to  be  copied,  and  sold  them  at  a 
high  price.  After  his  recovery,  Chayim  Vital 
affirmed  that  the  writings  stolen  were  not  the  gen- 
uine ones  ;  these  he  would  never  publish.  He  is 
said  in  his  will  to  have  directed  them  to  be  laid  in  his 
grave.  Nevertheless,  after  his  death,  his  son,  Sam- 
uel Vital,  sold  Luryan  Kabbalistic  revelations,  and 
published  his  father's  dreams  and  visions  in  a 
separate  work.  An  immigrant  Marrano  from  Portu- 
gal, a  devotee  of  the  Kabbala,  asserted  that  he  had 
found  the  best  collection  in  Vital's  grave. 

54  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

After  this  time  a  regular  search  was  made  after 
the  Kabbala  of  Lurya  and  Vital.  Whoever  was  in 
possession  of  copies,  and  offered  them  for  sale  or 
publication,  found  ready  purchasers.  Messengers 
were  employed  to  give  this  fraud  currency  in  the 
Jewish  communities.  Israel  Saruk,  or  Sarug,  a  Ger- 
man, one  of  Lurya's  disciples,  introduced  the  Luryan 
Kabbala  into  Italy,  gained  many  adherents  for  it, 
and  much  money  for  himself.  His  account  of  his 
master's  miracles  offended  the  taste  of  very  few. 
From  Italy  he  betook  himself  to  Holland,  and  there 
gained  a  disciple  who  knew  how  to  give  the  Kabba- 
listic  frenzy  a  philosophic  complexion.  Alonzo,  or 
Abraham,  de  Herrera  (died  1639),  a  descendant  of 
the  Great  Captain,  the  viceroy  of  Naples,  was  intro- 
duced by  Saruk  into  the  mysteries  of  the  Luryan 
Kabbala.  Having  lived  a  Christian  during  the 
greatest  part  of  his  life,  he  was  more  familiar  with 
non-Jewish  philosophy  than  with  Jewish  literature  ; 
therefore  it  was  easy  to  deceive  him  into  taking 
dross  for  gold.  He  felt  clearly  that  Lurya's  Kab- 
bala betrayed  resemblances  to  Neoplatonic  philos- 
ophy, but  this  disturbed  De  Herrera  little,  or  rather, 
it  confirmed  the  Kabbalistic  teaching,  and  he  en- 
deavored to  explain  one  by  the  other.  Finding  it 
impossible  to  reconcile  the  two  systems,  he,  too,  fell 
into  idle  talk  and  rambling  expressions.  Abraham 
de  Herrera,  who,  as  has  been  stated,  became  a  Jew 
at  a  ripe  age,  could  not  learn  Hebrew,  and  hence 
had  his  two  Kabbalistic  works,  the  "  House  of  God" 
and  the  "  Gate  of  Heaven,"  translated  by  the  Am- 
sterdam preacher  Isaac  Aboab  from  Spanish  into 
Hebrew,  and  in  his  will  set  apart  a  considerable 
sum  of  money  for  their  publication.  The  author 
and  translator  doubtless  thought  that  they  had  ren- 
dered an  inexpressibly  great  service  to  Judaism. 
But  by  the  meretricious  splendor  which  these  works 
imparted  to  the  Kabbala,  they  blinded  the  superficial 
minds  of  the  average  Portuguese  Jews,  who,  in  spite 

CH.  III.  THE    SPIRIT    OF    DOUBT.  55 

of  their  knowledge  of  classical  literature  and  Euro- 
pean culture,  abandoned  themselves  to  the  delu- 
sions of  the  Kabbala.  Manasseh  ben  Israel  and  all 
his  older  and  younger  contemporaries  in  Holland 
paid  homage  to  mysticism,  and  had  no  doubt  of  its 
truth  and  divinity. 

In  Germany  and  Poland  two  men,  half  Polish  and 
half  German,  brought  Lurya's  Kabbala  into  high  esti- 
mation :  Isaiah  Hurwitz  (Sheloh),  called  the  Holy, 
and  Naphtali  Frankfurter,  to  whom  we  may  perhaps 
add  the  credulous  Solomon,  or  Shlomel,  of  Moravia, 
who  glorified  the  silliest  stories  of  wonders  per- 
formed by  Isaac  Lurya,  Vital,  and  their  circle,  in  let- 
ters sent  to  Germany  and  Poland,  which  were  eag- 
erly read  and  circulated. 

However,  in  this  thick  unsightly  crust  over- 
spreading the  Kabbala,  some  rifts  and  chinks 
appeared,  which  indicated  disintegration.  Here 
and  there  were  found  unprejudiced  men,  wrho 
felt  and  expressed  doubts  as  to  the  truth  of 
Judaism  in  its  later  Rabbinical  and  Kabbalistic 
form.  Many  went  further,  and  included  Tal- 
mudical  interpretation.  Others  advanced  from 
doubt  to  certainty,  and  proceeded  more  or  less 
openly  against  the  existing  form  of  Judaism.  Such 
inquirers,  of  course,  were  not  to  be  met  with  among 
German  and  Polish,  nor  among  Asiatic  Jews  ;  these 
considered  every  letter  in  the  Talmud  and  Zohar, 
every  law  in  the  code  (Shulchan  Aruch)  as  the  in- 
violable word  of  God.  The  doubters  were  only  in 
Italian  and  Portuguese  communities,  which  had  rela- 
tions with  educated  circles.  A  pious  adherent  of 
tradition,  Immanuel  Aboab,  of  Portuguese  origin, 
who  had  long  resided  in  Italy,  felt  called  upon  to 
compose  a  defense  of  the  Judaism  of  the  Talmud 
and  the  rabbis  (Nomologia,  composed  1616-1625), 
showing  an  unbroken  chain  of  exponents  of  true 
tradition  down  to  his  own  time,  a  well-meant,  but 
not  very  convincing  work.  The  confused  Kabbalist 

56  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  III. 

Naphtali  Frankfurter  complained  of  his  comtempo- 
raries  who  ridiculed  the  Talmud.  Three  or  four 
gifted  investigators  more  or  less  frankly  revealed 
the  scepticism  working  beneath  the  surface.  These 
three  men,  differing  in  character,  mode  of  life,  and 
position,  were  Uriel  Acosta,  Judah  Leo  Modena,  and 
Joseph  Delmedigo  ;  we  may  perhaps  add  Simone 
Luzzatto  to  the  list.  They  endeavored  to  lay  bare 
the  disadvantages  and  weaknesses  of  existing  Juda- 
ism ;  but  not  one  of  them  was  able  to  suggest  or 
apply  a  remedy. 

Uriel  da  Costa  (Gabriel  Acosta,  born  about  1590, 
died  April,  1640)  was  an  original  character,  whose 
inward  unrest  and  external  course  of  life  could  not 
but  bring  him  into  conflict  with  Judaism.  He  was 
descended  from  a  Portuguese  Marrano  family  at 
Oporto,  whose  members  had  been  made  sincere 
believers  in  Christ  by  the  terrors  of  the  Inquisition. 
His  father,  at  least,  who  belonged  to  the  higher 
classes  in  Portugal,  had  become  a  strict  Catholic. 
Young  Gabriel  learnt  ecclesiasticism  and  the  accom- 
plishments of  a  cavalier  from  his  father,  was,  like 
him,  a  good  rider,  and  entered  upon  a  course  of 
education,  limited,  indeed,  but  sufficient  for  that  time. 
He  adopted  the  only  career  open  to  young  Portu- 
guese of  the  upper  middle  class,  by  means  of  which 
the  gifted  could  rise  to  distinction,  and  to  a  certain 
equality  with  the  nobility.  He  was  prepared  for  the 
law,  a  study  which  might  pave  the  way  to  the  second 
rank,  the  clerical.  In  his  youth  the  Jesuits  had 
already  obtained  powerful  influence  over  men's 
minds,  and  their  methods  of  exciting  the  imagination 
and  subduing  the  intellect  by  depicting  everlasting 
damnation  and  the  punishments  of  hell  had  proved 
effectual.  Nothing  but  punctilious,  mechanical  wor- 
ship and  continual  confession  could  overcome  the 
terrors  of  hell. 

Gabriel    da    Costa,    in    spite    of    his    punctilious 
ecclesiasticism,  did  not  feel  quieted  in  his  conscience. 

CH.  III.  URIEL    DA    COSTA.  57 

Daily  mechanical  exercises  failed  to  influence  his 
mind,  and  continual  confession  to  obtain  absolution 
from  the  lips  of  the  priest  pleased  him  less  as  he 
became  more  mature.  Somewhat  of  the  subtle  Jew- 
ish spirit  remained  in  his  nature,  and  shook  the 
strongly  built  Catholic  system  of  belief  to  its  founda- 
tions. The  more  deeply  he  plunged  into  the  Catho- 
lic Jesuitic  teaching,  the  more  did  doubts  trouble  him, 
and  disturb  his  conscience.  However,  he  accepted 
a  semi-ecclesiastical  office  as  chief  treasurer  to  an 
abbey  about  1615.  To  end  his  doubts,  he  investi- 
gated the  oldest  records  of  Holy  Scripture.  The 
prophets  were  to  solve  the  riddles  which  the  Roman 
Catholic  Church  doctrines  daily  presented  to  him. 
The  fresh  spirit  which  breathed  from  out  of  the  Old 
Testament,  disfigured  though  it  was  in  its  Latin 
guise,  brought  repose  to  his  mind.  The  doctrines 
of  Judaism  appeared  the  more  certain,  as  they  were 
recognized  by  the  New  Testament  and  the  Church, 
while  those  of  Catholicism  were  rejected  by  Judaism ; 
in  the  one  case  there  was  unanimity,  in  the  other, 
contradiction.  Da  Costa  formed  the  resolution  to 
forsake  Catholicism  and  return  to  Judaism.  Of  an 
impulsive,  passionate  temperament,  he  sought  to 
carry  his  resolution  into  effect  quickly.  With  great 
caution  he  communicated  his  intention  to  his  mother 
and  brothers — his  father  was  already  dead — and 
they  also  resolved  to  expose  themselves  to  the 
danger  of  secret  emigration,  to  leave  their  hearth  and 
home,  give  up  a  respected  position  in  society,  and 
exchange  the  certain  present  for  an  uncertain  future. 
In  spite  of  the  Argus-eyed  espionage  of  Marranos 
by  the  Inquisition  and  the  secular  authorities,  the 
Da  Costa  family  succeeded  in  gaining  a  vessel  and 
escaping  to  Amsterdam  (about  1617-18).  Gabriel 
da  Costa  and  his  brothers  were  admitted  to  the 
covenant  of  Abraham,  and  Gabriel  changed  his 
name  to  Uriel. 

Of  a  hot-blooded    nature,    an   enthusiast   whose 

58  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

imagination  overpowered  his  judgment,  Uriel  da 
Costa  had  formed  for  himself  an  ideal  of  Judaism 
which  he  expected  to  meet  with  in  Amsterdam,  but 
which  had  never  been  realized.  He  thought  to  see 
biblical  conditions,  supported  by  pure  Pentateuchal 
laws,  realized  in  the  young  Amsterdam  community, 
and  to  find  an  elevation  of  mind  which  would  at  once 
clear  up  the  puzzles  that  the  Catholic  Church  could 
not  solve.  What  the  Catholic  confessors  could  not 
offer,  he  thought  that  he  would  be  able  to  obtain 
from  the  rabbis  of  Amsterdam.  Da  Costa  had  built 
religious  and  dogmatic  castles  in  the  air,  and  was 
annoyed  not  to  meet  with  them  in  the  world  of 
reality.  He  soon  found  that  the  religious  life  of  the 
Amsterdam  community  and  its  established  laws  did 
not  agree  with  Mosaic  or  Pentateuchal  precepts,  but 
were  often  opposed  to  them.  As  he  had  made  great 
sacrifices  for  his  convictions,  he  thought  that  he  had 
the  right  to  express  his  opinion  freely,  and  point  to  the 
gap  which  existed  between  biblical  and  Rabbinical 
Judaism.  He  was  deeply  wounded,  embittered,  and 
irritated,  and  allowed  himself  to  be  completely  over- 
powered by  his  feelings.  He  did  not  stop  at  mere 
words,  but  regulated  his  conduct  accordingly,  openly 
disregarded  religious  usages,  and  thought  that  in 
opposing  the  ordinances  of  the  "Pharisees"  (as, 
in  the  language  of  the  Church,  he  called  the  rabbis), 
he  was  recommending  himself  to  the  favor  of  God. 
He  thereby  brought  upon  himself  unpleasantnesses 
destined  to  end  tragically.  Were  the  Amsterdam 
Jews,  who  had  suffered  so  much  for  their  religion, 
quietly  to  see  one  of  their  members  openly  assail 
and  ridicule  Judaism,  become  so  dear  to  them  ? 
Those  born  and  brought  up  in  the  land  of  the  Inquisi- 
tion had  no  idea  of  toleration  and  indulgence  for 
the  conviction  of  others.  The  rabbis,  perhaps  Isaac 
Uziel  and  Joseph  Pardo,  threatened  Da  Costa  with 
excommunication,  i.  e.,  expulsion  from  the  religious 
community  and  severance  of  all  relations  with  it,  if 

CH.  III.  DA    COSTA    ATTACKED.  59 

he  persisted  in  transgressing  the  religious  ordinan- 
ces of  Judaism.  This  opposition  only  served  to 
increase  Da  Costa's  passion  ;  he  was  ill-content  to 
have  purchased  new  fetters  by  the  sacrifices  he  had 
made.  He  continued  to  disregard  the  laws  in  force, 
and  was  eventually  excommunicated.  Uriel's  rela- 
tives, who  had  more  easily  adapted  themselves  to 
the  new  faith,  avoided  him,  and  spoke  not  a  word  to 
him.  Thus  Da  Costa  stood  alone  in  the  midst  of  a 
great  city.  Separated  from  his  race,  friends,  and 
relatives,  a  stranger  amongst  the  Christian  inhabi- 
tants of  Amsterdam,  whose  language  he  had  not  yet 
learnt,and  thrown  upon  himself,  he  fell  more  and  more 
into  subtle  speculation.  Acting  under  excessive  irri- 
tation, he  resolved  to  publish  a  work  hostile  to 
the  Judaism  of  the  day,  and  bring  out  particularly 
the  glaring  contrast  between  it  and  the  Bible.  As 
irrefragable  proof,  he  intended  to  emphasize  that  the 
former  recognized  only  bodily  punishments  and 
rewards,  and  taught  nothing  as  to  the  immortality  of 
the  soul.  But  he  discovered  that  the  Bible  itself 
observes  silence  about  a  purely  spiritual  future  life, 
and  does  not  bring  within  the  circle  of  religion  the 
idea  of  a  soul  separated  from  the  body.  In  short, 
his  investigations  led  him  away  not  only  from  Catho- 
licism and  Rabbinical  Judaism,  but  from  the  Bible 
itself.  It  is  not  known  how  it  was  circulated  that 
the  excommunicated  Da  Costa  intended  to  give 
public  offense,  but  he  was  anticipated.  Samuel  da 
Silva,  a  Jewish  physician,  in  1623  published  a  work 
in  the  Portuguese  language,  entitled  "  A  Treatise  on 
the  Immortality  of  the  Soul,  in  order  to  confute  the 
Ignorance  of  a  certain  Opponent,  who  in  Delusion 
affirms  many  Errors."  In  the  course  of  the  work 
the  author  plainly  named  Uriel,  and  described  him 
as  "  blind  and  incapable."  Da  Costa  thought  his 
opponents,  especially  the  rabbis,  had  hired  Da  Silva's 
pen  to  attack  him.  Hence  he  hastened  to  publish 
his  work,  also  in  Portuguese  (1624-1625),  entitled 

60  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  III. 

"  An  Examination  of  the  Pharisaic  Traditions,  com- 
pared with  the  written  Laws,  and  Reply  to  the  Slan- 
derer Samuel  da  Silva."  The  fact  of  his  calling  his 
opponent  a  slanderer  shows  his  confusion,  for  he 
actually  asserted  what  Da  Silva  had  reproached  him 
with,  that  the  soul  is  not  immortal.  As  he  now  had 
unequivocally  declared  his  breach  with  Judaism,  he 
had  to  take  the  consequences.  Before,  he  had  been 
openly  scorned  by  young  people  in  the  street  as  an 
excommunicant,  a  heretic,  an  Epicurean  (in  the  Tal- 
mudical  sense) ;  he  had  been  pelted  with  stones,  dis- 
turbed and  annoyed  in  his  own  house  (as  he  thought, 
at  the  instigation  of  the  rabbis).  Now,  after  the 
appearance  of  his  work,  the  official  representatives 
of  the  Amsterdam  community  complained  to  the 
magistrates  that  by  denying  the  immortality  of  the 
soul,  he  had  attacked  not  only  the  teaching  of  Juda- 
ism, but  also  of  Christianity,  and  had  published 
errors.  Da  Costa  was  arrested,  kept  for  several 
days  in  prison,  at  last  fined  300  gulden,  and  his  work 
condemned  to  the  flames.  The  freest  state  of  that 
time  believed  that  it  had  the  right  to  keep  watch  over 
and  limit  freedom  of  thought  and  writing  ;  its  distinc- 
tion was  merely  that  it  kindled  no  funeral  piles  for  hu- 
man beings.  Da  Costa's  brethren  in  race  could  not 
have  persecuted  him  very  severely,  for  he  was  able  to 
bear  excommunication  during  the  long  space  of  fif- 
teen years.  Only  his  isolation  was  a  heavy  burden  ; 
he  could  not  endure  to  be  avoided  by  his  family  as 
one  infected  with  the  plague.  Da  Costa  was  not  a 
strong-minded  man,  a  thinker  of  the  first  order,  who 
could  live  happily  in  his  world  of  ideas  as  in  bound- 
less space,  unconcerned  about  the  outer  world,  and 
glad  of  his  solitary  freedom  ;  he  could  not  do  without 
the  world.  He  had  invested  his  capital  with  one  of 
his  brothers,  and  he  thought  that  it  would  be  endan- 
gered if  he  continued  the  war  against  the  community. 
He  thought  of  taking  a  wife,  which  was  impossible 
so  long  as  he  was  excommunicated  Hence  he  at 

CH.   III.  DA    COSTA    RETRACTS.  6l 

last  yielded  to  the  urgency  of  his  relatives  to  become 
reconciled  with  the  community.  He  was  willing,  as 
he  said,  "  to  be  an  ape  among  apes."  He  confessed 
Judaism  with  his  lips  at  the  very  time  when  he  had  in 
his  heart  thoroughly  fallen  away  from  it. 

Da  Costa,  in  his  philosophical  inquiries,  had  come 
upon  a  new  discovery.  Judaism,  even  in  its  pure 
biblical  form,  could  not  have  been  of  divine  origin, 
because  it  contradicts  nature  in  many  points,  and 
God,  the  Creator  of  nature,  can  not  contradict  Him- 
self in  revelation.  He  cannot  command  a  principle 
in  the  Law,  if  He  has  implanted  in  nature  an  oppos- 
ing principle.  This  was  the  first  step  to  the  deistic 
tendency  then  appearing  in  France  and  the  Nether- 
lands, which  acknowledged  God  only  in  nature,  not 
in  the  moral  law,  and  in  religious  and  political  devel- 
opment. Da  Costa's  theory  supposed  a  religion  of 
nature  inborn  in  man,  which  produced  and  built 
up  the  moral  law,  and  culminated  in  the  love  of 
members  of  a  family  to  one  another.  The  best  in 
Judaism  and  other  revealed  religions  is  borrowed 
from  the  religion  of  nature.  The  latter  knows  only 
love  and  union  ;  the  others,  on  the  contrary,  arm 
parents  and  children  against  one  another  on  account 
of  the  faith.  This  theory  was  the  suggestion  of  his 
bitterness,  because  his  relatives  avoided  him,  and 
showed  him  but  little  consideration.  Da  Costa  ap- 
pears to  have  put  forward  as  the  religion  of  nature 
what  the  Talmud  calls  the  Noachian  command- 

In  spite  of  his  complete  falling  away  from  Juda- 
ism, he  resolved,  as  he  himself  states,  on  the  inter- 
vention of  his  nephew,  and  after  passing  fifteen 
years  in  excommunication  (about  1618-1633),  to 
alter  his  course  of  life  and  actions,  make  a  confes- 
sion, or  rather  put  his  signature  to  such  a  document, 
an  act  of  what  he  himself  describes  as  thorough- 
going hypocrisy,  designed  to  purchase  repose  and 
comfort,  at  the  cost  of  conviction.  But  his  passion- 

62  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

ate    nature   robbed   him   of  both.     He   could    not 
impose  renunciation  upon  himself  to  conform  to  the 
religious  usages  of  Judaism,  but  transgressed  them 
immediately  after  his  penitent  confession.     He  was 
detected  by  one  of  his  relatives,  and  they  all,  espec- 
ially the  nephew  who  had  brought  about  the  recon- 
ciliation, were  so  embittered  that  they  persecuted 
him  even  more  relentlessly  than  those  less  nearly 
connected  with  him.     They  again  renounced  inter- 
course with  him,  prevented  his  marriage,  and  are 
said  to  have  injured  him  in  his  property.     Through 
his  passionate  hatred  of  Judaism,  which  he  had  con- 
fessed with  his  lips,  he  committed  an  act  of  folly 
which   exposed  his    true   sentiments.     Two  Chris- 
tians, an  Italian  and   a   Spaniard,  had   come   from 
London  to  Amsterdam    to    attach    themselves   to 
Judaism.     When  they  consulted  Uriel  da  Costa  on 
the  subject,  he  gave  a  frightful  picture  of  the  Jewish 
form   of  religion,  warned   them   against   laying   a 
heavy  yoke  on   their   necks,  and   advised  them  to 
continue  in  their  own  faith.     Contrary  to  promise, 
the  two  Christians  betrayed  Da  Costa's  remarks  on 
Judaism  to  the  leaders  of  the  community.     The  war 
between  them  and  him  broke  out  afresh.     The  rab- 
bis summoned  him  a  second  time  before  their  tribu- 
nal, set  before  him  his  religious  transgressions,  and 
declared   that   he   could   escape   a   second   severe 
excommunication    only  by  submitting  to  a  solemn 
penance  in  public.     More  from  a  sense  of  honor 
than  from  conviction  he  refused  this  penance,  and 
so  was  a  second  time  laid  under  the  ban,  much  more 
severe  than  the  first,  in   which   condition    he   con- 
tinued for  seven  years.     During  this    time  he  was 
treated   by  the   members   of  the    community  with 
contempt,  and  even  spat  upon.     His  brothers  and 
nephews  behaved  with  the  greatest  severity  towards 
him,  because  they  thought  by  that  means  to  force 
him  to  repentance.     They  reckoned  on  his  helpless- 
ness and  weakness,  and  they  did  not  reckon  amiss. 


Da  Costa  meanwhile  had  reached  middle  age, 
had  been  made  submissive  by  conflicts  and  excite- 
ment, and  longed  for  repose.  By  process  of  law, 
which  he  had  instituted  against  the'  Amsterdam 
authorities,  he  could  obtain  nothing,  because  he 
could  not  put  his  complaints  into  a  tangible  form; 
he  consented,  therefore,  to  everything  demanded 
for  his  humiliation.  His  public  penance  was  to  be 
very  severe.  There  was  no  definite  prescription  on 
the  subject  in  the  religious  Code,  which,  in  fact,  is 
opposed  in  spirit  to  public  penance  ;  the  sinner  is 
not  to  confess  aloud  his  transgressions  against 
religion,  but  in  silence  to  God.  Judaism,  from  its 
origin,  objected  to  confession  and  the  mechanical 
avowal  of  sins.  For  this  reason  it  remained  for  the 
college  of  rabbis  to  appoint  a  form  of  penance. 
The  Amsterdam  rabbis  and  the  communal  council, 
consisting  of  Marranos,  adopted  as  a  model  the 
gloomy  form  of  the  tribunal  of  the  Inquisition. 

As  soon  as  Da  Costa  had  consented  to  his  humil- 
iation, he  was  led  into  one  of  the  synagogues,  which 
was  full  of  men  and  women.  There  was  to  be  a 
sort  of  auto-da-fe,  and  the  greatest  possible  publicity 
was  given  to  his  penance  because  the  scandal  had 
been  public.  He  had  to  ascend  a  stage  and  read 
out  his  confession  of  sins  :  that  he  had  desecrated 
the  Sabbath,  violated  the  dietary  laws,  denied  arti- 
cles of  faith,  and  advised  persons  not  to  adopt 
Judaism.  He  solemnly  declared  that  he  resolved 
to  be  no  longer  guilty  of  such  offenses,  but  to  live 
as  a  true  Jew.  On  a  whisper  from  the  first  rabbi, 
probably  Saul  Morteira,  he  went  to  a  corner  of  the 
synagogue,  stripped  as  far  as  the  girdle,  and  re- 
ceived thirty-nine  stripes  with  a  scourge.  Then  he 
was  obliged  to  sit  on  the  ground,  after  which  the 
ban  was  removed.  Not  yet  having  satisfied  the 
authorities,  he  had  to  stretch  himself  out  on  the 
threshold  of  the  synagogue,  that  those  present 
might  step  over  him.  It  was  certainly  an  excessive 

64  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

penance  which  was  imposed  upon  him,  not  from  a 
desire  of  persecution  or  vengeance,  but  from  reli- 
gious scrupulousness  and  mimicry  of  Catholic  forms. 
No  wonder  that  the  disgrace  and  humiliation  deeply 
wounded  Da  Costa,  who  had  consented  to  the  pun- 
ishment, not  from  inward  repentance,  but  from 
exhaustion.  The  public  disgrace  had  shaken  his 
whole  being,  and  suggested  thoughts  of  revenge. 
Instead  of  pitying  the  rabbis  as  the  creatures  of 
historical  conditions,  he  hated  them  with  a  glowing 
feeling  of  revenge  as  the  refuse  of  mankind,  and  as 
if  they  thought  of  nothing  but  deception,  lying,  and 
wickedness.  His  wounded  sense  of  honor  and 
heated  imagination  saw  in  the  Jews  of  the  Amster- 
dam community,  perhaps  in  all  the  Jews  on  the 
earth's  surface,  his  personal,  venomous  foes,  and  in 
Judaism  an  institution  to  stir  up  men  to  hatred  and 
persecution.  Thinking  that  he  was  surrounded  by 
bitter  enemies,  and  feeling  too  weak  for  a  fresh 
conflict,  he  resolved  to  die,  but  at  the  same  time  to 
take  vengeance  on  his  chief  persecutor,  his  brother 
(or  cousin).  To  excite  the  sympathy  of  his  contem- 
poraries and  posterity,  he  wrote  his  autobiography 
and  confession,  which,  however,  contain  no  new 
thoughts,  only  bitterness  and  furious  attacks  against 
the  Jews,  intermingled  with  fresh  aspersions  of  them 
in  the  eyes  of  Christians :  that  even  at  this  time 
they  would  have  crucified  Jesus,  and  that  the  state 
ought  not  to  grant  them  freedom  of  religious  pro- 
fession. This  document,  drawn  up  amidst  prepara- 
tions for  death,  breathed  nothing  but  revenge 
against  his  enemies.  After  he  had  finished  his  im- 
passioned testament,  he  loaded  two  pistols,  and  fired 
one  at  his  relative,  who  was  passing  his  house.  He 
missed  his  aim,  so  he  shut  the  door  of  his  room,  and 
killed  himself  with  the  other  weapon  (April,  1640). 
On  opening  his  residence  after  the  report  of  the 
shot,  they  found  on  the  table  his  autobiography, 
"An  Example  of  Human  Life,"  in  which  he  brought 

CH.   III.  LEO    MODENA.  65 

Jews  and  Judaism  to  the  bar,  and  with  pathetic  sen- 
tences described  them  as  his  excited  imagination  in 
the  last  hour  suggested.  By  this  act  and  legacy  Da 
Costa  showed  that  he  suffered  himself  to  be  over- 
powered by  his  feelings  rather  than  guided  by  rea- 
son. He  was  neither  a  thinker  nor  a  wise  man,  nor 
was  his  a  manly  character.  As  his  system  of 
thought  was  not  well  balanced,  leading  him  to 
oppose  what  existed  as  false  and  bad,  because  it 
was  in  his  way,  he  left  no  lasting  impression.  His 
Jewish  contemporaries  persisted  in  stubborn  silence 
about  him,  as  if  they  wished  his  memory  to  fall  into 
oblivion.  He  acted  like  a  boy  who  breaks  the  win- 
dows in  an  old  decaying  building,  and  thus  creates  a 

The  second  seditious  thinker  of  this  time,  Leo 
(Judah)  ben  Isaac  Modena  (born  1571,  died  1649), 
was  of  another  stamp,  and  was  reared  in  different 
surroundings.  Leo  Modena  was  descended  from  a 
cultivated  family  which  migrated  to  Modena,  in 
Italy,  on  the  expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  France, 
and  whose  ancestors,  from  lack  of  intellectual  clear- 
ness, despite  their  education,  fostered  every  kind  of 
superstition  and  fanciful  idea. 

Leo  Modena  possessed  this  family  peculiarity  in 
a  high  degree.  He  was  a  marvelous  child.  In  his 
third  year  he  could  read  a  portion  from  the  proph- 
ets ;  in  his  tenth,  he  delivered  a  sort  of  sermon  ;  in 
his  thirteenth,  he  wrote  a  clever  dialogue  on  the 
question  of  the  lawfulness  of  playing  with  cards  and 
dice,  and  composed  an  elegy  on  the  death  of  the 
teacher  of  his  youth,  Moses  Basula,  in  Hebrew  and 
Italian  verses  having  the  same  sound — a  mere 
trifle,  to  be  sure,  but  which  at  a  riper  age  pleased 
him  so  well  that  he  had  it  printed.  But  the  mar- 
velous child  did  not  develop  into  a  marvelous  man, 
into  a  personage  of  prominence  or  distinction. 
Modena  became,  however,  the  possessor  of  aston- 
ishingly varied  knowledge.  As  he  pursued  all  sorts 

66  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

of  occupations  to  support  himself,  viz.,  those  of 
preacher,  teacher  of  Jews  and  Christians,  reader 
of  prayers,  interpreter,  writer,  proof-reader,  book- 
seller, broker,  merchant,  rabbi,  musician,  match- 
maker, and  manufacturer  of  amulets,  without  ever 
attaining  to  a  fixed  position,  so  he  studied  many 
departments  of  knowledge  without  specially  distin- 
guishing himself  in  any.  He  grasped  the  whole  of 
biblical,  Talmudic,  and  Rabbinic  literature,  was  well 
read  in  Christian  theological  works,  understood 
something  of  philosophy  and  physics,  was  able  to 
write  Hebrew  and  Italian  verses — in  short,  he  had 
read  everything  accessible  through  the  medium  of 
three  languages,  Hebrew,  Latin,  and  Italian.  He 
remembered  what  he  read,  for  he  possessed  an  ex- 
cellent memory,  invented  a  method  of  sharpening 
it  still  more,  and  wrote  a  book  on  this  subject.  But 
Leo  Modena  had  no  delight  either  in  knowledge  or 
poetry  ;  neither  had  value  for  him  except  so  far  as 
they  brought  bread.  He  preached,  wrote  books 
and  verses,  translated  and  commented,  all  to  earn 
money,  which  he  wasted  in  card-playing,  a  passion 
which  he  theoretically  considered  most  culpable,  but 
in  practice  could  not  overcome.  At  the  age  of  sixty 
he  acquired  property,  but  lost  it  more  quickly  than 
he  had  acquired  it,  squandering  100  ducats  in 
scarcely  a  month,  and  twice  as  much  in  the  following 
year.  Knowledge  had  not  enlightened  and  elevated 
him,  had  had  no  influence  on  his  principles.  Leo 
Modena  possessed  neither  genius  nor  character. 
Dissatisfied  with  himself  and  his  lot,  in  constant 
disquiet  on  account  of  his  fondness  for  gaming,  and 
battling  with  need,  he  became  a  prey  to  doubt. 
Religion  had  no  power  over  his  heart  ;  he  preached 
to  others,  but  not  to  himself.  Unbelief  and  super- 
stition waged  continual  war  within  him.  He  envied 
naive  believers,  who,  in  their  simplicity,  are  undis- 
turbed by  doubt,  expect,  and,  as  Leo  added,  obtain 
happiness  from  scrupulously  observing  the  ceremon- 


ies.  Inquirers,  on  the  other  hand,  are  obliged  to 
struggle  for  their  faith  and  the  happiness  dependent 
upon  it,  and  are  tortured  incessantly  by  pangs  of 
doubt.  He  had  no  real  earnestness  nor  true  con- 
viction, or  rather,  according  to  his  humor  and  mood, 
he  had  a  different  one  every  day,  without  being  a 
hypocrite.  Hence  he  could  say  of  himself,  "  I  do 
not  belong  to  the  class  of  painted  people,  my  out- 
ward conduct  always  corresponds  Avith  my  feelings." 

Leo  Modena  was  sincere  at  each  moment.  On 
one  day  he  broke  a  lance  for  the  Talmud  and  Rab- 
binical Judaism,  on  the  next,  condemned  them 
utterly.  He  disapproved  of  gaming,  and  grieved 
that  the  stars  had  given  him  this  unfortunate  pro- 
pensity, for  he  believed  also  in  astrology ;  yet  he 
prepared  a  Talmudical  decision  defending  it. 
When  the  Venetian  college  of  rabbis  pronounced 
the  ban  on  cards  and  dice,  he  pointed  out  that  gam- 
ing was  permissible  by  Rabbinical  principles,  and 
that  the  ban  had  no  justification.  His  disciple, 
Joseph  Chamiz,  a  physician  and  mystic,  once  asked 
him  his  opinion  on  the  Kabbalistic  transmigration  of 
souls.  Modena  replied  that  as  a  rule  he  would  pro- 
fess belief  in  the  doctrine  even  though  convinced  of 
its  folly,  in  order  not  to  be  pronounced  a  heretic  and 
a  fool,  but  to  him  he  was  willing  to  express  his  sin- 
cere and  true  views.  Thereupon  Leo  Modena  pre- 
pared a  work  to  expose  the  absurdity  and  incon- 
sistency with  Judaism  of  the  belief  in  transmigration 
of  souls.  But  so  feebly  was  this  conviction  rooted 
in  his  nature  that,  having  had  an  extraordinary  ex- 
perience, he  again,  at  least  for  a  time,  believed  in 
the  transmigration  of  souls,  a  favorite  theory  of  the 

The  Ghetto  of  Venice  must  have  been  a  totally 
different  place  from  that  of  Frankfort,  or  Prague,  or 
from  the  Polish-Jewish  quarters,  since  it  was  possi- 
ble for  men  like  Leo  Modena,  with  his  peculiar 
principles,  and  Simone  Luzzatto,  as  little  of  a  gen- 

68  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

uine  rabbi,  to  be  members  of  the  rabbinate.  In  the 
largest  Italian  community  next  to  that  of  Rome, 
consisting  of  6,000  souls,  there  were  cultivated  Jews 
interested  in  Italian  and  general  European  culture, 
and  enjoying  not  only  social,  but  also  literary  inter- 
course with  Christian  society.  The  walls  of  the 
Ghetto  formed  no  partition  between  the  Jewish  and 
the  Christian  population.  At  this  time,  in  the  age 
of  Shakespeare,  there  was  no  Shylock,  certainly  not 
in  Venice,  who  would  have  stipulated  as  payment 
for  his  loan  a  pound  of  flesh  from  his  Christian 
debtor.  The  people  properly  so  called,  workmen, 
sailors,  and  porters,  precisely  in  Venice,  were  milder 
and  more  friendly  towards  Jews  than  in  other  Chris- 
tian cities.  Jewish  manufacturers  employed  4,000 
Christian  workmen  in  the  lagoon  city,  so  that  their 
existence  depended  on  their  Jewish  employers  alone. 
At  the  time  of  a  devastating  pestilence,  when,  even 
in  this  well  policed  city,  the  reins  of  government 
became  slacker  and  looser,  and  threatened  to  fall 
from  the  hands  of  those  in  power,  Jewish  capitalists 
voluntarily  offered  their  money  to  the  state  to 
prevent  embarrassment.  There  were  not  a  few 
among  them  who  vied  with  the  cultivated  classes 
among  the  Christians  in  the  elegant  use  of  the 
Italian  language  in  speaking  and  writing,  and  in 
making  good  verses.  Besides  the  two  rabbis,  Leo 
Modena  and  Simone  Luzzatto,  two  Jewish  poetesses, 
Deborah  Ascarelli  and  Sarah  Copia  Sullam,  are 
illustrations  thereof.  The  first,  the  wife  of  Joseph 
Ascarelli,  a  respected  Venetian,  translated  Hebrew 
hymns  into  elegant  Italian  strophes,  and  also  com- 
posed original  verses.  A  Jewish-Italian  poet  ad- 
dressed her  in  verses  thus  :  "  Others  may  sing  of 
great  trophies,  thou  glorifiest  thy  people." 

The  graceful  and  spiritual  Sarah  Copia  (born 
about  1600,  died  1641)  excited  a  certain  amount  of 
attention  in  her  time.  She  was  an  original  poetess 
and  thinker,  and  her  gifts,  as  w.ejl  as  her  grace, 

CH.  III.  SARAH    SULLAM.  69 

brought  her  temptations  and  dangers.  The  only 
child  of  a  wealthy  father,  Simon  Copia  (Coppio)  in 
Venice,  who  loved  her  tenderly,  she  yielded  to  her 
inclination  for  instruction,  and  devoted  herself  to 
science  and  literature.  To  this  inclination  she 
remained  true  even  after  her  marriage  with  Jacob 
Sullam.  Sarah  Copia  Sullam  surpassed  her  sex  and 
even  men  of  her  age  in  knowledge.  She  delighted 
in  beauty,  and  breathed  out  her  inspirations  in 
rhythmic,  elegant  verses.  Young,  attractive,  with  a 
noble  heart  and  a  penetrating  understanding,  striving 
after  high  ideals,  and  a  favorite  of  the  muses,  Sarah 
Sullam  fascinated  the  old  as  well  as  the  young. 
Her  musical,  well-trained  voice  excited  admiration. 
When  an  elderly  Italian  priest,  Ansaldo  Ceba,  at 
Genoa,  published  an  heroic  poem  in  Italian  strophes, 
of  which  the  scriptural  Esther  was  the  heroine,  Sarah 
was  so  delighted,  that  she  addressed  an  enthusiastic 
anonymous  letter  full  of  praise  to  the  author  (161 8). 
It  pleased  her  to  see  a  Jewish  heroine,  her  ideal, 
celebrated  in  verses,  and  the  attention  of  the  culti- 
vated public  directed  to  Jewish  antiquity.  She 
hoped  that  thereby  the  prejudice  against  the  Jews 
of  the  day  would  vanish.  Sarah  did  not  conceal 
from  the  poet  that  she  always  carried  his  poetical 
creations  about  with  her,  and  at  night  put  his  book 
under  her  pillow.  Instead  of  finding  satisfaction  in 
the  sincere  homage  of  a  pure  woman's  soul,  Ceba, 
in  his  zeal  for  conversion,  thought  only  of  bringing 
her  over  to  Christianity.  When  he  heard  Sarah's 
beauty  extolled  by  the  servant  whom  he  sent  with 
presents  and  verses,  love  for  her  awoke  in  him. 
This  was  increased  by  her  sending  him  her  portrait, 
accompanied  by  enthusiastic  verses  in  the  exaggera- 
ted style  of  that  time,  in  which  she  said  :  "  I  carry 
my  idol  in  my  heart,  and  I  wish  everyone  to  worship 
him."  But  the  beautiful  Venetian  Jewess  did  not 
allow  herself  to  be  entrapped.  She  held  firmly  to 
her  Jewish  beliefs,  and  unfolded  to  her  priestly  friend 

70  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  in. 

the  reasons  that  induced  her  to  prefer  Judaism.  In 
vain  did  Ceba,  by  tenderness,  reproofs,  and  senti- 
mental languishing,  with  intimations  of  his  speedy 
end,  and  his  longing  to  be  united  with  her  in  heaven, 
endeavor  to  make  her  waver  in  her  conviction. 
When  he  begged  permission  to  pray  for  her  salva- 
tion, she  granted  his  request  on  condition  that  she 
might  pray  for  his  conversion  to  Judaism. 

Her  exceptional  position  as  poetess,  and  her  con- 
nection with  Christians  of  high  rank,  brought  her 
renown,  not  unattended  by  annoyances.  Slander- 
ous fellow-believers  spread  the  report,  that  she 
esteemed  the  principles  of  Judaism  but  lightly, 
and  did  not  fully  believe  in  their  divinity.  An 
unprincipled  Christian  priest,  Balthasar  Bonifaccio, 
who  later  occupied  the  position  of  bishop,  published 
a  work  accusing  the  Jewess  Sarah  Sullam  of  deny- 
ing the  immortality  of  the  soul.  Such  a  charge 
might  in  Catholic  Venice  have  had  other  effects  than 
that  against  Uriel  da  Costa  in  free-thinking,  Pro- 
testant Amsterdam.  Not  merely  fine  and  imprison- 
ment might  have  been  inflicted,  but  the  Inquisition 
might  have  sentenced  her  to  the  dungeon,  to  torture, 
and  perhaps  even  the  stake.  Hardly  recovered 
from  illness,  she  wrote  (1621)  a  manifesto  on  the 
immortality  of  the  soul,  full  of  ripe  dialectics,  noble 
courage,  and  crushing  force,  against  her  slanderous 
accuser.  The  dedication  to  her  deceased  father  is 
touching,  and  still  more  touching  is  her  fervent 
psalm-like  prayer  in  melodious  Italian  verses.  The 
consciousness  that  she,  a  woman  and  Jewess,  could 
not  rely  on  her  own  strength,  but  only  on  help  from 
above,  spreads  a  halo  about  her  memory.  The  end 
of  this  affair  is  not  known.  Ceba's  epic  "  Esther  " 
probably  induced  Leo  Modena  to  translate  Solomon 
Usque's  tragedy  on  the  same  subject  from  Spanish 
into  Italian  verse  ;  he  dedicated  it  to  Sarah  Copia, 
whose  epitaph  he  composed  in  melodious  Hebrew 


Leo  Modena  also  had  frequent  intercourse  with 
Christians.  His  peculiar  nature,  his  communicative 
disposition,  and  great  learning,  as  also  his  wit  and 
his  fondness  for  gaming,  opened  the  doors  of  Chris- 
tian circles  to  the  volatile  rabbi.  Christian  disciples 
sat  at  his  feet.  The  French  bishop  Jacob  Plantavi- 
cius,  and  the  half-crazed  Christian  Kabbalist  Jacob 
Gaffarelli,  were  his  pupils.  Nobles  and  learned 
men  corresponded  with  him,  and  permitted  him  to 
inscribe  his  works  to  them  with  flattering  dedica- 
tions. Leo  Modena  held  in  Italy  nearly  the  same 
position  as  Manasseh  ben  Israel  in  Holland.  In  the 
conversation  of  serious  men  and  in  the  merry  circle 
of  gamesters,  he  often  heard  the  ceremonies  of 
Judaism  ridiculed  as  childish  nonsense  (Lex  Judae- 
orum  lex  puerorum).  At  first  he  defended  his 
religion,  but  gradually  was  forced  to  admit  one  thing 
and  another  in  Judaism  to  be  defective  and  ridic- 
ulous ;  he  was  ashamed  to  be  so  thoroughly  a  Jew 
as  to  justify  all  consequences.  His  necessities  led 
him,  on  pressure  from  Christian  friends,  to  render 
single  portions,  and  at  last  the  whole,  of  the  Jewish 
code  accessible  to  the  Christian  public  in  the  Italian 
language.  An  English  lord  paid  him  for  the  work, 
with  the  intention  of  giving  it  to  King  James  I,  who 
made  pretensions  to  extensive  learning.  After- 
wards his  Christian  disciple  Gaffarelli  had  this  work, 
entitled  "The  Hebrew  Rites,"  printed  in  Paris,  and 
dedicated  it  to  the  French  ambassador  at  Venice. 
In  this  work,  eagerly  read  by  Christians,  Leo  Mo- 
dena, like  Ham,  uncovered  his  father's  nakedness, 
exposed  the  inner  sanctuary  of  the  Jews  to  prying 
and  mocking  eyes.  To  the  uninitiated,  that  which 
within  the  Jewish  circle  was  a  matter  for  reverence 
could  not  but  appear  petty,  silly,  and  absurd.  Leo 
Modena  explained  what  ceremonies  and  statutes 
Jews  employ  in  connection  with  their  dwellings, 
clothing,  household  furniture,  up-rising  and  lying 
down,  physical  functions,  and  in  the  synagogues  and 

72  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  III. 

schools.  Involuntarily  the  author  associated  himself 
with  the  despisers  of  Judaism,  which  he  as  rabbi  had 
practiced  and  taught.  He  showed  that  he  was  con- 
scious of  this  : 

"While  writing  I  in  fact  forgot  that  I  am  a  Jew,  and  considered 
myself  a  simple,  impartial  narrator.  However,  I  do  not  deny  that  I 
have  taken  pains  to  avoid  ridicule  on  account  of  the  numerous  cere- 
monies, but  I  had  no  intention  to  defend  and  palliate,  because  I  wished 
only  to  communicate,  not  convince." 

However,  it  would  be  an  error  to  infer  from  this 
that  Leo  Modena  had  at  heart  completely  broken 
with  Rabbinical  Judaism.  He  was,  as  has  been 
stated,  not  a  man  of  firm  and  lasting  convictions. 
Almost  at  the  same  time  when  he  exposed  the  rites 
of  Judaism  to  the  Christian  public,  he  composed  a 
defense  of  them  and  oral  teaching  in  general  against 
attacks  from  the  Jewish  side.  A  Hamburg  Jew  of 
Marrano  descent  had  raised  eleven  points  to  show 
the  falsehood  of  Talmudic  tradition.  Of  these 
arguments  some  are  important,  others  frivolous. 
The  Hamburg  sceptic  laid  chief  stress  on  the  point 
that  Talmudic  and  Rabbinic  ordinances  are  addi- 
tions to  Pentateuchal  Judaism,  and  the  Pentateuch 
had  expressly  forbidden  additions  of  this  sort.  At 
the  wish  of  certain  Portuguese  Jews,  Leo  Modena 
confuted  these  objections,  raised  by  a  sciolist.  His 
confutation  was  a  feeble  performance,  and  contains 
nothing  new.  With  Leo  Modena  one  never  knew 
whether  he  was  earnest  in  his  belief  or  his  unbelief. 
As  in  youth  he  had  brought  forward  reasons  for  and 
against  games  of  chance,  had  finally  condemned 
them,  and  nevertheless  freely  engaged  in  them,  so 
he  behaved  with  regard  to  Talmudical  Judaism. 
He  attacked  it,  defended  it,  made  it  appear  ridicu- 
lous, and  yet  practiced  it  with  a  certain  degree  of 

Some  years  after  his  vindication  of  Talmudical 
Judaism  against  the  Hamburg  sceptic  he  composed 
the  best  work  (1624)  that  issued  from  his  active 

CH.    III.       LEO    MODENA    AND    TALMUDICAL    JUDAISM.  73 

pen.  On  the  one  side  it  was  a  weighty  attack  on 
Rabbinical  Judaism,  such  as  had  hardly  been  made 
even  by  Christians  and  Karaites,  on  the  other  side, 
an  impressive  defense  of  it.  He  did  not  venture 
to  put  his  own  name  to  the  heavy  charges  against 
Judaism,  but  used  a  fictitious  name.  The  part 
which  contains  the  attacks  he  called  "  The  Fool's 
Voice  "  (Kol  Sachal),  and  the  defense,  "  The  Roar- 
ing of  the  Lion  "  (Shaagath  Aryeh).  Leo  Modena 
allotted  to  two  characters  his  own  duplex  nature, 
his  varying  convictions.  He  makes  the  opponent 
of  Judaism  express  himself  with  a  boldness  such  as 
Uriel  da  Costa  might  have  envied.  Not  only  did 
he  undermine  the  Rabbinical  Judaism  of  the  Talmud, 
but  also  biblical  Judaism,  the  Sinaitic  revelation,  and 
the  Torah.  But  the  blows  which  Leo  Modena, 
under  the  name  of  Ibn-Raz  of  Alkala,  in  an  attack 
of  unbelief,  inflicted  on  oral  teaching,  or  Talmudical 
Judaism,  were  most  telling. 

He  premises  that  no  form  of  religion  maintains 
itself  in  its  original  state  and  purity  according  to  the 
views  of  its  founder.  Judaism,  also,  although  the 
lawgiver  expressly  warned  his  followers  against 
adding  anything,  had  many  additions  thrust  upon  it. 
Interpretation  and  comment  had  altered  many 
things  in  it.  Ibn-Raz  (or  Leo  Modena  in  his  unbe- 
lieving mood)  examines  with  a  critical  eye  Jacob 
Asheri's  code,  and  at  each  point  marks  the  additions 
made  by  the  rabbis  to  the  original  code,  and  where 
they  had  weakened  and  distorted  it.  He  goes  so 
far  as  to  make  proposals  how  to  clear  Judaism  of 
excrescences,  in  order  to  restore  genuine,  ancient, 
biblical,  spiritual  Judaism.  This  was  the  first  at- 
tempt at  reform  :  a  simplification  of  the  prayers  and 
synagogue  service,  abolition  of  rites,  omission  of  the 
second  day  of  the  festivals,  relaxation  of  Sabbath, 
festival,  Passover,  and  even  Day  of  Atonement  laws. 
Every  one  was  to  fast  only  according  to  his  bodily 
and  spiritual  powers.  He  wished  to  see  the  ritual 

74  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

for  slaughtering'  animals  and  the  laws  as  to  food  set 
aside,  or  simplified.  The  prohibition  to  drink  wine 
with  those  of  other  creeds  made  Jews  ridiculous,  as 
also  did  the  strictness  against  alleged  idolatry.  All 
this,  observed  Ibn-Raz,  or  Leo  Modena,  at  the 
close,  does  not  exhaust  the  subject  ;  it  is  only  a 
specimen  of  the  evil  of  Rabbinical  Judaism.  He 
knew  well  that  he  would  be  pronounced  a  heretic, 
and  persecuted  on  account  of  his  frank  criticism, 
but  if  he  could  open  the  eyes  of  a  single  reader,  he 
would  consider  himself  amply  rewarded. 

Had  Leo  Modena  been  in  earnest  with  this  bold 
view,  which  would  have  revolutionized  the  Judaism 
of  his  day,  had  he  uttered  it  to  the  world  with  deep 
conviction,  he  would  no  doubt  have  produced  great 
commotion  in  Judaism.  But  criticism  of  the  Talmud 
was  only  mental  amusement  for  him  ;  he  did  not 
intend  to  engage  in  an  actual  conflict.  He  com- 
posed a  reply  with  as  little  sincerity,  and  let  both 
attack  and  defense  slumber  among  his  papers. 

Leo  Modena  was  more  in  earnest  with  the  attack 
on  the  Kabbala,  which  had  become  burdensome  and 
repulsive  to  him.  He  felt  impelled  to  discharge 
destructive  arrows  against  it,  and  this  he  did  with 
masterly  skill.  He  called  the  anti-Kabbalistic  work, 
which  he  dedicated  to  his  disciple  Joseph  Chamiz, 
a  Luryan  enthusiast,  "The  Roaring  Lion"  (Ari 
Noham).  From  many  sides  he  threw  light  on  the 
deceptions,  the  absurdity,  and  the  falsehood  of  the 
Kabbala  and  its  fundamental  source,  the  Zohar. 
Neither  this  work  nor  his  attacks  on  Talmudical 
Judaism  were  published  by  him  :  the  author  was  not 
anxious  to  labor  in  either  direction.  To  a  late  age 
he  continued  his  irregular  life,  without  striving  after 
real  improvement.  Leo  Modena  died,  weary  of  the 
conflict,  not  with  gods  (i.  e.,  ideas)  and  men,  but 
with  himself,  and  of  the  troubles  which  he  had 
brought  upon  himself. 

Apparently  similar,  yet    differing    fundamentally 


from  him,  was  the  third  burrower  of  this  period : 
Joseph  Solomon  Delmedigo  (born  1591,  died  1655). 
Scion  of  an  old  and  noble  family,  in  whose  midst 
science  and  the  Talmud  were  cultivated,  and  great- 
grandson  on  the  female  side  of  the  clear  thinker 
Elias  del  Medigo,  he  but  slightly  resembled  the 
other  members  of  his  house.  His  father,  a  rabbi  in 
Candia,  had  not  only  initiated  him  into  Talmudic 
literature,  but  also  made  him  learn  Greek.  Later 
Delmedigo  acquired  the  literary  languages  of  the 
time,  Italian  and  Spanish  in  addition  to  Latin.  The 
knowledge  of  languages,  however,  was  only  a  means 
to  an  end.  At  the  University  of  Padua  he  obtained 
his  scientific  education  ;  he  showed  decided  inclina- 
tion for  mathematics  and  astronomy,  and  could 
boast  of  having  as  his  tutor  the  great  Galileo,  the 
discoverer  of  the  laws  of  the  heavens,  the  martyr  to 
natural  science.  By  him  he  was  made  acquainted 
with  the  Copernican  system  of  the  sun  and  the 
planets.  Neither  Delmedigo  nor  any  believing  Jew 
labored  under  the  delusion  that  the  stability  of  the 
sun  and  the  motion  of  the  earth  were  in  contradic- 
tion to  the  Bible,  and  therefore  heretical.  Del- 
medigo also  studied  medicine,  but  only  as  a  pro- 
fession ;  his  favorite  subject  continued  to  be  math- 
ematics. He  enriched  his  mind  with  all  the  treas- 
ures of  knowledge,  more  varied  even  than  that  of 
Leo  Modena,  to  whom  during  his  residence  in  Italy 
he  clung  as  a  disciple  to  his  master.  In  the  circle 
of  Jewish-Italian  semi-freethinkers  he  lost  the  simple 
faith  which  he  had  brought  from  home,  and  doubts 
as  to  the  truth  of  tradition  stole  upon  him,  but  he 
was  not  sufficiently  animated  by  a  desire  for  truth 
either  to  overcome  these  doubts  and  become  settled 
in  the  early  belief  to  which  he  had  been  brought  up, 
or  unsparingly  to  expose  the  false  elements  in  Jew- 
ish tradition.  Joseph  Delmedigo  was  as  little 
formed  to  be  a  martyr  to  his  convictions  as  Leo 
Modena,  the  latter  by  reason  of  fickleness,  the 
former,  of  insincerity. 

76  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

With  doubt  in  his  heart  he  returned  to  his  home 
in  Candia,  and  gave  offense  by  his  free  mode  of 
thought,  especially  by  his  preference  for  secular 
knowledge.  He  made  enemies,  who  are  said  to 
have  persecuted  him,  and  was  obliged  to  leave  his 
native  land.  Then  began  a  migratory  life,  which 
drove  him  from  city  to  city,  like  his  model  Ibn-Ezra. 
Like  him,  he  made  friends  with  the  Karaites 
wherever  he  met  them,  and  they  thronged  to  his 
presence.  At  Cairo  Delmedigo  celebrated  a  com- 
plete triumph  with  his  mathematical  knowledge, 
when  an  old  Mahometan  teacher  of  mathematics,  AH 
Ibn-Rahmadan,  challenged  him,  a  youth,  to  a  public 
combat,  in  which  AH  was  beaten.  The  victorious 
combatant  was  magnanimous  enough  to  show  honor 
to  AH  before  the  world.  Instead  of  betaking  him- 
self to  Palestine  as  he  had  intended,  Delmedigo 
traveled  to  Constantinople ;  here  also  he  attached 
himself  to  the  circle  of  the  Karaites,  and  at  last 
passed  through  Wallachia  and  Moldavia  to  Poland. 
There,  mathematics  procuring  him  no  bread,  he 
practiced  medicine,  of  which,  however,  he  had  learnt 
more  from  books  than  by  the  bedside  of  patients. 
In  Poland  he  passed  for  a  great  physician,  and  was 
taken  into  the  service  of  Prince  Radziwill,  in  Wilna 
(about  1619-1620).  Here,  through  the  excessive 
attention  given  to  the  Talmud,  general  culture  was 
forsaken,  but  youths  and  men  eager  for  learning, 
especially  Karaites,  thronged  to  Delmedigo  to  slake 
their  thirst  for  knowledge.  A  half-crazed  Karaite, 
Serach  ben  Nathan  of  Trok,  who  had  an  inclination 
to  Rabbinical  Judaism,  in  order  to  sho.w  his  exten- 
sive knowledge,  with  mock  humility  laid  before  him 
a  number  of  important  questions,  which  Delmedigo 
was  to  answer  offhand,  and  sent  him  a  sable  fur  for 
the  Polish  winter. 

Delmedigo  found  it  to  his  advantage,  in  order  to 
give  himself  the  appearance  of  a  distinguished  char- 
acter in  Poland,  to  shroud  himself  in  silence  and 


seclusion.  Heat  first  answered  Serach's  questions 
not  personally,  but  through  one  of  his  companions, 
an  assistant  and  follower,  Moses  Metz.  This  man 
described  his  teacher  as  a  choice  intellect,  a  demi- 
god, who  carried  in  his  brain  all  human  and  divine 
knowledge.  He  sketched  his  appearance  and 
character,  his  occupation  and  behavior,  regulated, 
as  he  said,  by  higher  wisdom,  gave  information 
about  his  descent  from  a  learned  and  distinguished 
family  on  his  father's  and  his  mother's  side,  and,  as 
his  teacher's  mouth-piece,  imposed  upon  the  credu- 
lous Karaite  by  saying  that  he  had  composed  works 
on  all  branches  of  knowledge,  at  which  the  world 
would  be  astonished,  if  they  came  to  light.  Metz 
also  communicated  to  Serach  some  of  his  teacher's 
theories  in  mathematics,  religion,  and  philosophy, 
and  thus  still  more  confused  Serach's  mind.  In  his 
communications  on  Judaism,  which  Delmedigo  either 
made  himself  or  through  Moses  Metz,  he  was  very 
cautious  ;  here  and  there,  it  is  true,  he  allowed  a 
suggestion  of  unbelief  to  glimmer  through,  but 
quickly  covered  it  over  with  a  haze  of  orthodoxy. 
Only  where  he  could  do  so  without  danger  Del- 
medigo expressed  his  real  opinion. 

When  he  at  last  sent  the  Karaite  an  answer  to  a 
letter  with  his  own  hand  (about  1621),  he  did  not 
conceal  his  true  views,  but  declared  his  preference 
for  Karaism  and  its  ancient  teachers,  loaded  them 
undeservedly  with  praise,  exalted  science,  and  ridi- 
culed the  delusions  of  the  Kabbala  audits  adherents. 
In  the  same  letter  to  Serach,  Delmedigo  indulged 
in  scoffs  against  the  Talmud,  and  thought  the  Kara- 
ites fortunate  that  they  were  able  to  dispense  with 
it.  He  had  nothing  to  fear  when  he  unburdened 
his  heart  before  his  Karaite  admirer. 

Delmedigo  does  not  seem,  on  the  whole,  to  have 
been  at  ease  in  Poland.  He  could  not  carouse  with 
the  nobles  whom  he  attended  professionally  for  fear 
of  the  Jews,  and  it  was  not  possible  to  earn  money 

78  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

in  so  poor  a  country.     So  he  betook  himself  by  way 
of  Dantzic  to   Hamburg,  where  a  Portuguese  com- 
munity had  been  lately  permitted   to   settle.      His 
knowledge  of  medicine  seems  to  have  met  with  little 
esteem  in  the  city  on  the  Elbe.     What  was  his  skill 
in   comparison  with  that  of  the  De  Castros,  father 
and  son  ?     He  was  compelled,  in  order  to  subsist, 
to  undertake  a  certain  amount  of  rabbinical  duty,  if 
only  as  preacher.     For  the  sake  of  bread  he  had 
to  play  the  hypocrite,  and  speak  in  favor  of  Rabbin- 
ical Judaism.     Nay,  in  order  to  dissipate  the  rumor 
from  Poland,  which  represented  him  as  a  heretic,  he 
was  not  ashamed  to  praise  the  Kabbala,  which  he 
had  shortly  before  condemned,  as  the  highest  wis- 
dom, before  which  philosophy  and  all  sciences  must 
be  dumb.     For  this  purpose  he  prepared  his  defense 
of  the  secret  doctrine,  in  refutation  of  the  crushing 
arguments  against  it  by  one  of  his  ancestors,  Elias 
Del  Medigo.     His  work  was  of  the  kind  to  throw 
dust  in  the  eyes  of  the  ignorant  multitude  ;  it  dis- 
played a  smattering  of  learning  on  all  sorts  of  sub- 
jects, but  no  trace  of  logic.     He  was  too  clever  to 
maintain  the  sheepish  style  of  dull,  stupid  credulity, 
and  could  not  refrain  from  satire.     He  defended  the 
genuineness  of  the  Zohar  as  an  ancient  work  by 
Simon  bar  Yochai,  or  at  least  by  his  school.     He 
argued  that  one  must  not  be  shocked  by  its  many 
incongruities  and  absurdities  ;  the  Talmud  also  con- 
tains not  a  few,  and  is  yet  a  sacred  book.     To  save 
his  reputation  with  the  more  intelligent,  Delmedigo 
intimated  that  he  had  defended  the  Kabbala  only 
from  necessity.     We  must  not,  he  says,  superficially 
judge  the  character  of  an  author  by  his  words.      He, 
for  instance,  was  writing  this  defense  of  the  Kabbala 
at  the  desire  of  a  patron  of  high  position,  who  was 
enamored  of  it.     Should  this  friend  come  to  be  of 
another  mind,  and  require  an  attack  upon  the  Kab- 
bala, he  would  not  refuse  him.     In  conclusion,  he 
observes  that  philosophical  students  would  no  doubt 


ridicule  him  for  having  turned  his  back  on  wisdom, 
and  betaken  himself  to  folly  ;  but  he  would  rather 
be  called  a  fool  all  his  life  than  for  a  single  hour 
transgress  against  piety. 

This  work,  commenced  in  Hamburg,  Delmedigo 
could  not  finish  there.  A  pestilence  broke  out,  and 
drove  him,  physician  though  he  was,  to  Gliickstadt. 
In  this  small  community,  where,  as  he  said,  there 
was  neither  town  (Stadt)  nor  luck  (Gluck),  he  could 
find  no  means  of  subsistence,  and  he  traveled  on  to 
Amsterdam  about  1629.  He  could  not  attempt  to 
practice  medicine  in  a  city  where  physicians  lived 
of  even  higher  eminence  than  at  Hamburg,  and  so 
was  obliged  a  second  time  to  apply  himself  to  the 
functions  of  rabbi.  To  show  his  importance,  he 
printed  his  scientific  replies  to  the  questions  of  his 
Polish  admirers,  with  the  fulsome  eulogies,  clouds  of 
incense,  and  foolish  homage  which  the  young  Kara- 
ite Serach  had  offered  him.  It  is  a  work  of  truly 
Polish  disorder,  in  which  mathematical  theorems  and 
scientific  problems  are  discussed  by  the  side  of  phil- 
osophical and  theological  questions,  in  a  confused 
way.  Delmedigo  took  care  not  to  print  his  attacks 
upon  the  Kabbala  and  the  Talmud,  and  his  prefer- 
ence for  the  Karaites — in  short,  all  that  he  had 
written  to  please  the  rich  Serach.  Instead  of  pub- 
lishing an  encyclopaedic  work  which  he  boastfully 
said  he  had  composed  in  his  earliest  youth,  and 
which  embraced  all  sciences  and  solved  all  questions, 
he  produced  a  mere  medley. 

The  Amsterdam  community  was  then  full  of 
suspicion  against  philosophy  and  culture  owing  to 
the  reckless  behavior  of  Da  Costa,  and  therefore 
Delmedigo  thought  it  advisable  to  ward  off  every 
suspicion  of  unbelief,  and  get  a  reputation  for  strictest 
orthodoxy.  This  transparent  hypocrisy  did  not 
answer  well.  He  was,  it  is  true,  appointed  preacher, 
and  partially  rabbi,  in  or  near  Amsterdam,  but  he 
could  remain  in  Holland  only  a  few  years.  Poor 

80  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

and  unstable  as  he  was,  he  went  with  his  wife  to 
Frankfort-on-the-Main  about  1630  to  seek  means 
of  subsistence.  But  here,  in  a  German  community, 
where  Rabbinical  learning  was  diffused,  he  could 
not  obtain  a  rabbinical  office  ;  but  he  could  turn  his 
medical  knowledge,  scanty  as  it  was,  to  account. 
As  he  felt  no  vocation  for  the  office  of  rabbi,  nor  for 
medical  practice,  it  was  a  matter  of  indifference  if 
he  changed  the  preacher's  gown  for  the  doctor's 
mantle.  He  was  engaged,  under  irksome  condi- 
tions, as  communal  doctor  (February  14,  1631). 
How  long  he  remained  at  Frankfort  is  not  known  ; 
his  position  cannot  have  been  favorable,  for  he  re- 
moved to  Prague  (about  1648-1650),  and  in  this 
most  neglected  community  he  settled.  Later  (1652) 
he  was  at  Worms,  probably  only  temporarily,  and 
ended  his  life,  which  had  promised  so  much,  and 
realized  so  little,  at  Prague.  Nor  did  he  publish 
any  part  of  his  great  work,  which  he  had  announced 
with  so  much  pomposity. 

In  a  measure  Simone  (Simcha)  Luzzatto  (born 
about  1590,  died  1663)  maybe  reckoned  among  the 
sceptics  of  this  time.  He  was,  at  the  same  time  as 
Leo  Modena,  rabbi  in  Venice.  Luzzatto  was  not 
an  eminent  personage  ;  but  he  had  more  solidity 
than  his  colleague  Modena,  or  than  Delmedigo. 
By  the  latter,  who  knew  him  personally,  he  was 
praised  as  a  distinguished  mathematician.  He  was 
also  well  read  in  ancient  and  modern  literature. 
His  uprightness  and  love  of  truth,  which  he  never 
belied,  distinguished  him  more  than  his  knowledge 
and  learning.  A  parable  which  Luzzatto  wrote  in 
Italian  in  his  youth  shows  his  views,  as  also  his 
maturity  of  thought,  and  that  he  had  reflected  early 
on  the  relation  of  faith  to  science.  He  puts  his 
thoughts  into  the  mouth  of  Socrates,  the  father  of 
Greek  wisdom.  At  Delphi  an  academy  had  been 
formed  to  rectify  the  errors  of  human  knowledge. 
Reason  immediately  presented  a  petition  from  the 


dungeon,  where  she  had  been  so  long  kept  by  ortho- 
dox authority,  to  be  set  at  liberty.  Although  the 
chief  representatives  of  knowledge,  Pythagoras  and 
Aristotle,  spoke  against  this  request,  and  uttered  a 
warning  against  her  liberation,  because,  when  free, 
she  would  produce  and  spread  abroad  most  frightful 
errors,  yet  the  academy  set  her  at  liberty ;  for  by 
that  means  alone  could  knowledge  be  promoted. 
But  the  newly  liberated  minds  caused  great  mis- 
chief ;  and  the  academicians  were  at  a  loss  what  to 
do.  Then  Socrates  rose,  and  in  a  long  speech 
explained  that  reason  and  authority,  if  allowed  to 
reign  alone,  would  produce  only  errors  and  mischief; 
but  if  mutually  limited,  reason  by  revelation,  and 
revelation  by  reason,  they  mingle  in  the  right  pro- 
portion, and  produce  beautiful  harmony,  whereby 
man  may  attain  his  goal  here  below  and  hereafter. 
This  thought,  that  reason  and  faith  must  regulate 
and  keep  watch  over  each  other,  which,  in  Maimuni's 
time  had  passed  into  a  commonplace,  was  at  this 
period,  under  the  rule  of  Lurya's  Kabbala,  con- 
sidered in  Jewish  circles  a  bold  innovation. 

Simone  Luzzatto  did  not  suffer  himself  to  be  en- 
snared by  Kabbalistic  delusions  ;  he  did  not  cast 
reason  behind  him ;  he  was  a  believer,  but  withal 
sober-minded.  He  did  not  share  the  delusion  of 
Manasseh  ben  Israel  and  others  that  the  lost  tribes 
of  Israel  were  existing  in  some  part  of  the  world 
enjoying  independence  as  a  military  power.  With 
sober  Jewish  inquirers  of  former  times,  he  assumed 
that  Daniel's  revelation  does  not  point  to  a  future 
Messiah,  but  only  reflects  historical  events.  He 
composed  a  work  on  the  manners  and  beliefs  of  the 
Jews,  which  he  proposed  to  exhibit  "  faithfully  to 
truth,  without  zeal  and  passion."  It  was  probably 
designed  to  form  a  counterpart  to  Leo  Modena's 
representation,  which  cast  a  shadow  on  Judaism. 

Luzzatto's  defense  of  Judaism  and  the  Jews, 
under  the  title  "  A  Treatise  on  the  Position  of  the 

82  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

Hebrews,"  is  masterly.  It  speaks  eloquently  for 
his  practical,  sober  sense,  for  his  love  of  truth,  his 
attachment  to  Judaism,  and  his  solid  knowledge. 
He  did  not  wish  to  dedicate  it  to  any  individual 
patron  out  of  flattery,  but  to  the  friends  of  truth  in 
general.  He  conjured  these  friends  not  to  esteem 
the  remnant  of  the  ancient  Hebrew  nation,  even  if 
disfigured  by  sufferings,  and  saddened  by  long  op- 
pression, more  lightly  than  a  mutilated  work  of  art 
by  Phidias  or  Lysippus,  since  all  men  were  agreed 
that  this  nation  was  once  animated  and  led  by  the 
greatest  of  Masters.  It  is  astonishing  what  thorough 
knowledge  the  rabbi  had  of  the  commerce  of  that 
time,  and  the  influence  upon  it  of  the  political  posi- 
tion of  European  and  neighboring  Asiatic  states. 
The  object  of  his  defense  was  primarily  to  disarm 
the  ill-will  of  certain  Venetian  patricians  against  the 
Jews  in  that  strictly  governed  state.  The  common 
people  had  little  antipathy  to  the  Jews  ;  they  lived 
to  some  extent  on  them.  But  among  those  who 
had  a  share  in  the  government  there  were  fanatical 
religious  zealots  and  envious  opponents,  who  advo- 
cated further  restrictions,  or  even  banishment.  It 
did  not  suit  them  that  the  Venetian  Jews,  who,  shut 
up  in  the  Ghetto,  possessed  neither  land  nor  the 
right  to  carry  on  a  handicraft,  competed  with  them 
in  finance  and  trade.  The  commercial  city  of 
Venice,  far  surpassed  by  the  new  naval  powers, 
Holland  and  England,  which  had  gradually  obtained 
control  of  the  trade  with  the  Levant,  saw  many  of 
its  great  houses  of  business  in  splendid  misery,  while 
new  Jewish  capitalists  stepped  into  their  place,  and 
seized  the  Levantine  business.  With  artful  turns  and 
delicate  hints,  Luzzatto  gave  the  politicians  of  Venice 
to  understand  that  exhaustion  was  hastening  the 
downfall  of  the  republic.  The  prosperous  cared 
only  to  keep  what  they  had  acquired  and  for  enjoy- 
ment, and  former  Venetian  commerce  seemed  to  be 
falling  into  the  hands  of  foreigners,  Hence  the 


Jews  had  become  a  blessing  to  the  state.  It  was 
more  advisable  to  leave  its  extensive  trade,  especi- 
ally that  of  the  East,  to  native  Jews,  and  to  protect 
them,  than  to  see  it  diverted  to  neighboring-  towns, 
or  to  strangers,  who  formed  a  state  within  the  state, 
were  not  always  obedient  to  the  laws,  and  gradually 
carried  the  ready  money  out  of  the  country.  Luz- 
zatto  calculated  from  statistics  that  the  Jews  contrib- 
uted more  than  250,000  ducats  to  the  republic  every 
year,  that  they  gave  bread  to  4,000  workpeople, 
supplied  home  manufactures  at  a  cheap  rate,  and 
obtained  goods  from  distant  countries.  It  was 
reserved  for  a  rabbi  to  bring  this  political-economical 
consideration,  of  vital  importance  for  the  island 
republic,  to  the  notice  of  wise  councilors.  Luzzatto 
also  called  attention  to  the  important  advantage 
which  the  capital  of  the  Jews  had  recently  been, 
when,  during  the  pestilence  and  the  dissolution  of 
political  government,  the  Jews  had  spontaneously 
offered  money  to  the  state  to  prevent  embarrass- 

Luzzatto  also  defended  the  Jews  against  attacks 
on  the  religious  side,  but  on  this  point  his  exposition 
is  not  original.  If  he  brought  out  the  brieht  traits 

/*  •  *^  ^^  ^^ 

of  his  Jewish  contemporaries,  he  by  no  means 
passed  over  their  dark  ones  in  silence,  and  that 
redounds  to  his  credit.  Luzzatto  depicted  them 
in  the  following  manner.  However  different  may 
be  the  manner  of  Venetian  Jews  from  their  brethren 
in  Constantinople,  Damascus,  Germany,  or  Poland, 
they  all  have  something  in  common  : — 

"  It  is  a  nation  of  timid  and  unmanly  disposition,  at  present  incap- 
able of  political  government,  occupied  only  with  its  separate  interests, 
and  caring  little  about  the  public  welfare.  The  economy  of  the  Jews 
borders  on  avarice  ;  they  are  admirers  of  antiquity,  and  have  no  eye 
for  the  present  course  of  things.  Many  are  uneducated,  without 
taste  for  learning  or  the  knowledge  of  languages,  and,  in  following 
the  laws  of  their  religion,  they  exaggerate  to  the  most  painful  degree. 
But  they  have  also  noteworthy  peculiarities — firmness  and  endurance 
in  their  religion,  uniformity  of  doctrinal  teaching  in  the  long  course 
of  more  than  fifteen  centuries  since  the  dispersion  ;  wonderful  stead- 
fastness, which  leads  them,  if  not  to  go  into  dangers,  yet  to  endure 

84  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   III. 

the  severest  suffering.  They  possess  knowledge  of  Holy  Scripture 
and  its  exposition,  gentleness  and  hospitality  to  the  members  of  their 
race — the  Persian  Jew  in  some  degree  suffers  the  wrongs  of  the  Ital- 
ian—strict abstinence  from  carnal  offenses,  extraordinary  carefulness 
to  keep  the  family  unspotted,  and  skill  in  managing  difficult  matters. 
They  are  submissive  and  yielding  to  everyone,  only  not  to  their  breth- 
ren in  religion.  The  failings  of  the  Jews  have  rather  the  character 
of  cowardice  and  meanness  than  of  cruelty  and  atrocity." 

What  Luzzatto's  position  was  with  regard  to  the 
Talmud  he  did  not  distinctly  state,  but  only  ex- 
plained generally  that  there  are  three  or  four  classes 
of  Jews  :  Talmudists  or  Rabbanites,  who  hold  the 
oral  law  of  equal  authority  with  the  Bible  ;  secondly, 
a  philosophical  and  cultured  class  ;  and,  lastly,  Kab- 
balists,  and  Karaites.  Yet  he  intimated  that  he 
held  the  Talmudical  tradition  to  be  true  ;  whilst  he 
considered  the  Kabbala  as  not  of  Jewish,  but  of  Pla- 
tonic, Pythagorean,  and  Gnostic  origin.  One  of  his 
disciples  relates  of  him  that  he  ridiculed  the  Kab- 
balists,  and  thought  their  theory  had  no  claim  to  the 
title  of  tradition  ;  it  was  wanting  in  the  Holy  Spirit. 

These  four  thinkers,  more  or  less  dissatisfied 
with  the  Judaism  of  the  day,  who  were  furnished 
with  so  much  intellect,  knowledge,  and  eloquence, 
yet  exerted  very  little  influence  over  their  Jewish 
contemporaries,  and  thus  did  not  break  through  the 
prevailing  obscurity  in  the  smallest  degree.  Luz- 
zatto  wrote  for  only  a  limited  class  of  readers,  and 
did  not  inflict,  or  wish  to  inflict,  heavy  blows  on 
Judaism.  Uriel  da  Costa  missed  his  mark  on  ac- 
count of  his  violent,  impatient  disposition  ;  Leo 
Modena  was  himself  too  wavering,  driven  hither 
and  thither  by  the  wind  of  conflicting  opinions,  to 
acquire  serious  convictions  and  do  battle  for  them. 
His  attacks  on  the  weak  side  of  Judaism,  as  has 
been  stated,  were  made  in  private.  Joseph  Del- 
medigo  did  more  harm  than  good  through  his  insin- 
cerity and  hypocrisy.  Lacking  character,  he  sank 
so  low  as  to  speak  in  favor  of  the  confused  doctrines 
of  the  Kabbala,  and  by  the  weight  of  his  knowledge 
confirmed  and  increased  the  delusion  of  the  multi- 


tude.  But  from  two  other  quarters,  by  two  quite 
opposite  characters,  weighty  blows  against  Judaism 
were  delivered,  threatening  completely  to  shatter  it. 
Reason  incorporated,  as  it  were,  in  one  Jew,  and 
unreason  incarnate  in  another,  joined  hands  to  treat 
Judaism  as  abolished  and  dissolved,  and,  so  to 
speak,  to  dethrone  the  God  of  Israel. 



Spinoza's  Youth  and  Education — His  Intellectual  Breach  with  Juda- 
ism— Fresh  Martyrs  of  the  Inquisition — The  Rabbis  and  Spinoza 
— Excommunication — Spinoza's  "Tractate"  and  "  Ethics  "- 
Spinoza's  Writings  Concerning  Judaism — Spinoza's  Contem- 
poraries in  Amsterdam — De  Paz  and  Penso — The  Mystical 
Character  of  the  Years  1648  and  1666 — Sabbata'i  Zevi's  early 
Career— The  Jerusalem  Community — Sabbata'i's  Travels — 
Nathan  Ghazati — Sabbata'i  announced  in  Smyrna  as  the  Mes- 
siah— Spread  of  Enthusiastic  Belief  in  the  pseudo-Messiah — 
Manoel  Texeira — Ritual  Changes  introduced  by  the  Sab- 
batians— Sabbata'i  proceeds  to  Constantinople — Nehemiah  Cohen 
— Sabbata'i  Zevi's  Apostasy  to  Islam  and  its  Consequences — Con- 
tinuation of  the  Sabbatian  Movement— Death  of  Sabbata'i  and 
Spinoza — Results  of  the  Sabbatian  Imposture. 

1656 — 1677  c.  E. 

WHILST  Manasseh  ben  Israel  was  zealously  laboring 
to  complete  the  fabric  of  Judaism  by  hastening  on 
the  Messianic  era,  one  of  his  disciples  was  applying 
an  intellectual  lever  to  destroy  this  edifice  to  its 
foundation  and  convert  it  into  a  shapeless  dust 
heap.  He  was  earnest  about  what  was  only  amuse- 
ment for  Leo  Modena.  The  Jewish  race  once 
more  brought  a  deep  thinker  into  the  world,  one 
who  was  radically  to  heal  the  human  mind  of  its 
rooted  perversities  and  errors,  and  to  prescribe  a 
new  direction  for  it,  that  it  might  better  comprehend 
the  connection  between  heaven  and  earth,  between 
mind  and  matter.  Like  his  ancestor  Abraham,  this 
Jewish  thinker  desired  to  break  to  pieces  all  idols 
and  vain  images,  before  which  men  had  hitherto 


bowed  down  through  fear,  custom,  and  indolence, 
and  to  reveal  to  them  a  new  God,  not  enthroned  in 
heaven's  height  beyond  their  reach,  but  living  and 
moving  within  them,  whose  temple  they  themselves 
should  be.  His  influence  was  like  that  of  the  storm, 



deafening  and  crushing  down,  but  also  purifying  and 

The  lightning  flashes  of  this  great  philosophical 
genius  did  greatest  injury  to  Judaism  which  was 
nearest  to  him.  In  the  degradation  of  the  religion 
of  his  day  and  its  professors,  even  his  searching 
gaze  could  not  recognize  the  fair  form  concealed 
beneath  a  loathsome  exterior. 

This  great  thinker,  the  most  famous  philosopher 
of  his  time,  who  brought  about  a  new  redemption, 
was  Baruch  Spinoza  (really  Espinosa,  born  in  Spain 
1632,  died  1677).  He  belonged  to  a  family  eminent 
for  neither  intellect  nor  wealth.  No  sign  at  his  birth 
portended  that  he  would  reign  for  more  than  two 
centuries  a  king  in  the  realm  of  thought.  With 
many  other  boys,  he  attended  the  Jewish  school, 
consisting  of  seven  classes,  recently  established  in 
Amsterdam,  whither  his  parents  had  migrated. 
With  his  extraordinary  talents  he  surely  kept  pace 
with  the  requirements  of  the  school,  if  he  did  not 
exceed  them.  In  his  thirteenth  or  fourteenth  year 
he  was  probably  introduced  by  Manasseh  ben  Israel 
to  the  study  of  the  Talmud,  and  initiated  into 
Hebrew  grammar,  rhetoric,  and  poetry.  He  re- 
ceived final  instruction  in  Rabbinical  lore  from  Saul 
Morteira,  the  greatest  Talmudist  of  his  time  in  Am- 
sterdam. Together  with  Spinoza  Morteira  taught 
others  who  later  had  more  or  less  influence  on  Jew- 
ish history,  but  were  of  quite  another  stamp. 

Moses  Zacut  (1630-1697),  a  descendant  of  the 
famous  family  of  that  name,  was  held  to  be  Mor- 
teira's  first  disciple.  From  his  youth  upwards,  with 
his  predilection  for  mysticism  and  poetry,  he  formed 
a  direct  contrast  to  Spinoza.  He  loved  what  was 
inexact  and  obscure,  Spinoza  the  clear  and  definite. 
Two  incidents  may  serve  to  portray  Moses  Zacut. 
He  was  asked  when  young  what  he  thought  of  the 
fabulous  narratives  of  Rabba  Bar-Bar-Chana  in  the 
Talmud,  which  are  like  those  of  Miinchhausen,  and  he 

88  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

replied  that  he  regarded  them  as  historical.  When 
young  he  learned  Latin  like  most  Portuguese  youths 
in  Amsterdam.  Later,  he  so  regretted  having  learned 
that  language,  that  he  fasted  forty  days  in  order  to 
forget  it,  because,  as  he  thought,  this  tongue  of  the 
devil  was  not  compatible  with  Kabbalistic  truth. 
Another  fellow-disciple  of  Spinoza  was  Isaac  Naar 
(Nahar),  likewise  a  mystic,  and  of  a  spiteful  and  not 
over-scrupulous  nature. 

Thirst  for  knowledge  stimulated  Spinoza  to  ven- 
ture beyond  the  limited  circle  of  studies  pursued  in 
Morteira's  lecture-room.  He  plunged  into  the 
writings  of  older  Jewish  thinkers,  three  of  whom 
alike  attracted  and  repelled  him  :  Ibn-Ezra  with  his 
free-thinking  and  his  reticence,  Moses  Maimuni  with 
his  artificial  system,  aiming  at  the  reconciliation  of 
faith  and  science,  of  Judaism  and  philosophy,  and 
Chasdai  Crescas  with  his  hostility  to  traditional  phil- 
osophy. Spinoza  was  also  at  home  in  the  Kabbala, 
the  main  doctrines  of  which  had  been  rendered  ac- 
cessible through  Abraham  de  Herrera  and  Isaac 
Aboab.  These  various  elements  heaved  and  fer- 
mented in  his  mind,  which  strove  for  insight,  and 
excited  in  his  breast  tormenting  doubts,  to  which 
Ibn-Ezra's  covert  unbelief  mainly  contributed.  A 
youth  of  fifteen,  Spinoza  is  said  to  have  expressed 
his  doubts  in  the  form  of  questions  to  his  master 
Morteira,  which  may  have  not  a  little  perplexed  a 
rabbi  accustomed  to  beaten  tracks.  To  these  ele- 
ments of  scepticism,  conveyed  to  him  from  Jewish 
literature,  others  were  added  from  without.  Spinoza 
learned  Latin,  in  itself  nothing  remarkable,  since,  as 
has  been  remarked,  nearly  all  the  Jewish  youths  of 
Amsterdam,  as  well  as  Christians  of  the  educated 
classes  of  Holland,  regarded  that  language  as  a 
means  of  culture.  But  he  was  not  contented  with 
superficial  knowledge  ;  he  desired  to  drink  deep  of 
classical  literature.  He  sought  the  instruction  of  an 
eminent  philologist  of  his  time,  Dr.  Franz  van  den 

CH.  iv.  SPINOZA'S  STUDIES.  89 

Enden,  who  lectured  in  Amsterdam  to  noble  youths, 
native  and  foreign.  Here  he  learned,  in  contact 
with  educated  Christian  youths,  to  adopt  a  different 
point  of  view  from  that  which  obtained  in  Morteira's 
lecture-room  and  in  Jewish  circles.  Van  den  Enden 
also  strongly  influenced  his  mind.  Though  not  an 
atheist,  he  was  a  man  of  sceptical  and  satirical  vein, 
who  turned  religious  customs  and  prejudices  to  ridi- 
cule, and  exposed  their  weaknesses.  But  what 
with  him  was  the  object  of  humor  and  wit,  excited 
Spinoza's  susceptible  and  analytical  mind  to  deep 
reflection  and  meditation.  The  natural  sciences, 
mathematics,  and  physics,  which  he  pursued  with 
devotion,  and  the  new-born,  imposing  philosophy  of 
Descartes  (Cartesius),  for  which  his  mind  had 
special  affinity,  extended  his  circle  of  vision  and 
enlightened  his  judgment.  The  more  he  imbibed 
ideas  from  various  sources,  assimilating  them  with 
those  innate  in  him,  and  the  more  his  logical  under- 
standing developed,  the  more  did  he  become  alien- 
ated from  Judaism,  in  its  Rabbinical  and  Kabbalistic 
trappings,  and  love  of  Van  den  Enden's  learned 
daughter  was  not  needed  to  make  him  a  pervert 
from  Jewish  belief. 

Independent,  judicial  reason,  which  disregards 
what  is  traditional  or  hallowed  by  time,  and  follows 
its  own  laws,  was  his  mistress.  To  her  he  dedicated 
pure,  undivided  worship,  and  she  led  him  to  break 
with  inherited  views.  All  that  cannot  be  justified 
before  the  inexorable  tribunal  of  clear  human  vision, 
passed  with  him  for  superstition  and  clouded 
thought,  if  not  actual  frenzy.  His  ardent  desire  for 
truth,  pure  truth  and  certainty,  led  him  to  a  com- 
plete breach  with  the  religion  endeared  to  him  from 
childhood  ;  he  not  only  rejected  Talmudical  Judaism, 
but  also  regarded  the  Bible  as  the  work  of  man. 
The  apparent  contradictions  in  the  books  of  Holy 
Scripture  appear  to  have  first  raised  his  doubts  as 
to  their  inspiration.  It  must  have  cost  him  a  hard 

gO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

struggle  to  give  up  the  customs  and  opinions  en- 
deared to  him  through  manifold  ties,  and  to  become, 
to  a  certain  extent,  a  new  man.  For  Spinoza  was 
quite  as  much  a  moral  character  as  a  deep  thinker. 
To  hold  anything  as  false  in  theory,  and  yet  from 
fear,  custom,  or  advantage  to  adopt  it  in  practice 
was  impossible  for  him.  He  was  differently  consti- 
tuted to  his  revered  master  Descartes,  who  kept 
away  from  the  church  the  torch  of  truth  which  he 
had  kindled,  made  a  gap  between  theory  and  prac- 
tice to  avoid  offending  that  church,  and,  for  example, 
vowed  a  pilgrimage  to  our  Lady  of  Loretto  for  the 
success  of  his  system  and  its  destructive  tendency. 
According  to  Spinoza's  idea  every  action  ought  to 
be  a  true  reflection  of  reason.  When  he  could  no 
longer  find  truth  in  Judaism,  he  could  not  bring  him- 
self to  follow  its  ritual  precepts.  He  ceased  to  at- 
tend the  synagogue,  cared  no  longer  for  the  Sabbath 
and  the  festivals,  and  broke  the  laws  concerning 
diet.  He  did  not  confine  himself  to  the  renunciation 
of  Judaism,  but  imparted  his  convictions  to  young 
men  who  sought  his  instruction. 

The  representatives  of  the  community  of  Amster- 
dam were  the  more  concerned  at  the  daily  increas- 
ing report  of  Spinoza's  estrangement  from,  and 
hostility  to  Judaism,  as  they  had  in  a  measure  looked 
upon  the  gifted  youth  as  their  exponent,  and  as  a 
firm  support  to  the  jeopardized  religion  of  their 
fathers.  Now  it  was  to  be  feared  that  he  would 
abandon  it,  go  over  to  Christianity,  and  devote  his 
intellectual  gifts  to  doing  battle  against  his  mother- 
faith.  Could  the  representatives  of  that  faith,  the 
college  of  rabbis  and  the  secular  heads  of  the 
community,  behold  with  indifference  this  systematic 
neglect  of  Judaism  in  their  midst  ?  Fugitives  were 
ever  coming  from  Spain  and  Portugal,  who  forfeited 
their  high  position,  and  staked  life  and  property,  to 
remain  true  to  Judaism.  Others  with  unbending 
attachment  to  the  faith  of  their  fathers,  let  them- 


selves  be  dragged  to  the  dark  prisons  of  the  In- 
quisition, or  with  cheerful  courage  mounted  the 
funeral  pile.  A  contemporary  writer,  an  eye- 
witness, reports  : 

"  In  Spain  and  Portugal  there  are  monasteries  and  convents  full  of 
Jews.  Not  a  few  conceal  Judaism  in  their  heart  and  feign  Christian- 
ity on  account  of  worldly  goods.  Some  of  these  feel  the  stings  of 
conscience  and  escape,  if  they  are  able.  In  this  city  (Amsterdam) 
and  in  several  other  places,  we  have  monks,  Augustinians,  Francis- 
cans, Jesuits,  Dominicans,  who  have  rejected  idolatry.  There  are 
bishops  in  Spain  and  grave  monks,  whose  parents,  brothers,  or  sisters, 
dwell  here  (in  Amsterdam)  and  in  other  cities  in  order  to  be  able  to 
profess  Judaism." 

At  the  very  time  when  Spinoza  became  estranged 
from  Judaism,  the  smoke  and  flames  of  the  funeral 
piles  of  Jewish  martyrs  rose  in  several  cities  of  Spain 
and  Portugal,  in  Cuenca,  Granada,  Santiago  de 
Compostela,  Cordova,  and  Lisbon. 

In  the  last-named  city  a  distinguished  Marrano, 
Manuel  Fernando  de  Villa-Real,  statesman,  poli- 
tical writer,  and  poet,  who  conducted  the  consular 
affairs  of  the  Portuguese  court  at  Paris,  returned  to 
Lisbon  on  business,  was  seized  by  the  Inquisition, 
gagged,  and  led  to  execution  (December  i,  1652). 
In  Cuenca  on  one  day  (June  29,  1654)  fifty-seven 
Christian  proselytes  to  Judaism  were  dragged  to  the 
auto-da-fe.  Most  of  them  only  received  corporal 
chastisement  with  loss  of  property,  but  ten 
were  burned  to  death.  Amongst  them  was  a  dis- 


'cinguished  man,  the  court-saclcller  Balthasar  Lopez, 
from  Valladolicl,  who  had  amassed  a  fortune  of 
100,000  ducats.  He  had  migrated  to  Bayonne, 
where  a  small  community  of  former  Marranos  was 
tolerated,  and  had  returned  to  Spain  only  to  per- 
suade a  nephew  to  come  back  to  Judaism.  He  was 
seized  by  the  Inquisition,  tortured,  and  condemned 
to  death  by  the  halter  and  the  stake.  On  his  way 
to  the  scaffold,  Balthasar  Lopez  ridiculed  the  In- 
quisition and  Christianity.  He  exclaimed  to  the 
executioner  about  to  bind  him,  "  I  do  not  believe  in 
your  Christ,  even  if  you  bind  me,"  and  threw  the 

92  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

cross  which  had  been  forced  upon  him  to  the  ground. 
Five  months  later  twelve  Marranos  were  burnt  in 
Granada.  Again, some  months  later  (March,  1655), 
a  promising  youth  of  twenty,  Marcos  da  Almeyda 
Bernal,  whose  Jewish  name  was  Isaac,  died  at  the 
stake ;  and  two  months  afterwards  (May  3d)  Abra- 
ham Nunes  Bernal  was  burnt  at  Cordova. 

Whoever  in  the  community  of  Amsterdam  could 
compose  verses  in  Spanish,  Portuguese,  or  Latin, 
sang  or  bewailed  the  martyrdom  of  the  two  Bernals. 
Was  Spinoza's  view  correct  that  all  these  martyrs, 
and  the  thousands  of  Jewish  victims  still  hounded  by 
the  Inquisition,  pursued  a  delusion  ?  Could  the  rep- 
resentatives of  Judaism  allow  unreproved,  in  their 
immediate  neighborhood,  the  promulgation  of  the 
idea  that  Judaism  is  merely  an  antiquated  error  ? 

The  college  of  rabbis,  in  which  sat  the  two  chief 
Chachams,  Saul  Morteira  and  Isaac  Aboab — Manas- 
seh  ben  Israel  was  then  living  in  London — had 
ascertained  the  fact  of  Spinoza's  change  of  opinion, 
and  had  collected  evidence.  It  was  not  easy  to 
accuse  him  of  apostasy,  as  he  did  not  proclaim  his 
thoughts  aloud  in  the  market-place,  as  Uriel  da 
Costa  had  announced  his  breach  with  Judaism. 
Besides,  he  led  a  quiet,  self-contained  life,  and  asso- 
ciated little  with  men.  His  avoidance  of  the  syna- 
gogue, the  first  thing  probably  to  attract  notice, 
could  not  form  the  subject  of  a  Rabbinical  accusation. 
It  is  possible  that,  as  is  related,  two  of  his  fellow- 
students  (one,  perhaps,  the  sly  Isaac  Naar)  thrust 
themselves  upon  him,  drew  him  out,  and  accused 
him  of  unbelief,  and  contempt  for  Judaism.  Spinoza 
was  summoned,  tried,  and  admonished  to  return  to 
his  former  course  of  life.  The  court  of  rabbis  did 
not  at  first  proceed  with  severity  against  him,  for  he 
was  a  favorite  of  his  teacher,  and  beloved  in  the 
community  on  account  of  his  modest  bearing  and 
moral  behavior.  By  virtue  of  the  firmness  of  his 
character  Spinoza  probably  made  no  sort  of  conces- 

CH.   IV.  SPINOZA    AND    THE    RABBIS.  93 

sion,  but  insisted  upon  freedom  of  thought  and  con- 
duct. Without  doubt  he  was,  in  consequence,  laid 
under  the  lesser  excommunication,  that  is,  close  inter- 
course with  him  was  forbidden  for  thirty  days.  This 
probably  caused  less  pain  to  Spinoza,  who,  self- 
centred,  found  sufficient  resource  in  his  rich  world 
of  thought,  than  to  the  superficial  Da  Costa.  Also, 
he  was  not  without  Christian  friends,  and  he,  there- 
fore, made  no  alteration  in  his  manner  of  life.  This 
firmness  was  naturally  construed  as  obstinacy 
and  defiance.  But  the  rabbinate,  as  well  as  the 
secular  authorities  of  the  community  did  not  wish 
to  exert  the  rigor  of  the  Rabbinical  law  against  him, 
in  order  not  to  drive  him  to  an  extreme  measure, 
i.  e.,  into  the  arms  of  the  Church.  What  harm  might 
not  the  conversion  to  Christianity  of  so  remarkable 
a  youth  entail  in  a  newly-founded  community,  con- 
sisting of  Jews  with  Christian  reminiscences  !  What 
impression  would  it  make  on  the  Marranos  in  Spain 
and  Portugal?  Perhaps  the  scandal  caused  by  Da 
Costa's  excommunication,  still  fresh  in  men's  memo- 
ries, may  have  rendered  a  repetition  impracticable. 
The  rabbis,  therefore,  privately  offered  Spinoza, 
through  his  friends,  a  yearly  pension  of  a  thousand 
gulden  on  condition  that  he  take  no  hostile  step 
against  Judaism,  and  show  himself  from  time  to  time 
in  the  synagogue.  But  Spinoza,  though  young,  was 
of  so  determined  a  character,  that  money  could  not 
entice  him  to  abandon  his  convictions  or  to  act  the 
hypocrite.  He  insisted  that  he  would  not  give  up 
freedom  of  inquiry  and  thought.  He  continued  to 
impart  to  Jewish  youths  doctrines  undermining 
Judaism.  So  the  tension  between  him  and  the  rep- 
resentatives of  Judaism  became  daily  greater  ;  both 
sides  were  right,  or  imagined  they  were.  A  fanatic 

in  Amsterdam  thought  that  he  could  put  an  end  to 


this  breach  by  a  dagger-stroke  aimed  at  the  dan- 
gerous apostate.  He  waylaid  Spinoza  at  the  exit 
from  the  theatre,  and  struck  at  the  philosopher  with 

94  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.    IV. 

his  murderous  weapon.  But  the  latter  observed  the 
hostile  movement  in  time,  and  avoided  the  blow,  so 
that  only  his  coat  was  damaged.  Spinoza  left 
Amsterdam  to  avoid  the  clanger  of  assassination, 
and  betook  himself  to  the  house  of  a  friend,  likewise 
persecuted  by  the  dominant  Calvinistic  Church,  an 
adherent  of  the  sect  of  the  Rhynsburgians,  or  Collec- 
tants,  who  dwelt  in  a  village  between  Amsterdam 
and  Ouderkerk.  Reconciliation  between  Spinoza 
and  the  synagogue  was  no  longer  to  be  thought  of. 
The  rabbis  and  the  secular  authorities  of  the  com- 
munity pronounced  the  greater  excommunication 
upon  him,  proclaiming  it  in  the  Portuguese  language 
on  a  Thursday,  Ab  6th  (July  24th),  1656,  shortly 
before  the  fast  in  memory  of  the  destruction  of 
Jerusalem.  The  sentence  was  pronounced  solemnly 
in  the  synagogue  from  the  pulpit  before  the  open 
Ark.  The  sentence  was  as  follows  : 

"The  council  has  long  had  notice  of  the  evil  opinions  and  actions 
of  Baruch  d'Espinosa,  and  these  are  daily  increasing  in  spite  of  efforts 
to  reclaim  him.  In  particular,  he  teaches  and  proclaims  dreadful 
heresy,  of  which  credible  witnesses  are  present,  who  have  made  their 
depositions  in  presence  of  the  accused." 

All  this,  they  continued,  had  been  proved  in  the 
presence  of  the  elders,  and  the  council  had  resolved 
to  place  him  under  the  ban,  and  excommunicate  him. 

The  usual  curses  were  pronounced  upon  him  in 
presence  of  scrolls  of  the  Law,  and  finally  the  coun- 
cil forbade  anyone  to  have  intercourse  with  him, 
verbally  or  by  writing,  to  do  him  any  service,  to 
abide  under  the  same  roof  with  him,  or  to  come 
within  the  space  of  four  cubits'  distance  from  him,  or 
to  read  his  writings.  Contrary  to  wont,  the  ban 
against  Spinoza  was  stringently  enforced,  to  keep 
young  people  from  his  heresies. 

Spinoza  was  away  from  Amsterdam,  when  the 
ban  was  hurled  against  him.  He  is  said  to  have  re- 
ceived the  news  with  indifference,  and  to  have 
remarked  that  he  was  now  compelled  to  do  what  he 


would  otherwise  have  done  without  compulsion. 
His  philosophic  nature,  which  loved  solitude,  could 
easily  dispense  with  intercourse  with  relatives  and 
former  friends.  Yet  the  matter  did  not  end  for  him 
there.  The  representative  body  of  the  Portuguese 
community  appealed  to  the  municipal  authorities  to 
effect  his  perpetual  banishment  from  Amsterdam. 
The  magistrates  referred  the  question,  really  a  theo- 
logical one,  to  the  clergy,  and  the  latter  are  said 
to  have  proposed  his  withdrawal  from  Amsterdam 
for  some  months.  Most  probably  this  procedure 
prompted  him  to  elaborate  a  justificatory  pamphlet 
to  show  the  civil  authorities  that  he  was  no  violator 
or  transgressor  of  the  laws  of  the  state,  but  that  he 
had  exercised  his  just  rights,  when  he  reflected  on 
the  religion  of  his  forefathers  and  religion  generally, 
and  thought  out  new  views.  The  chain  of  reasoning 
suggested  to  Spinoza  in  the  preparation  of  his  de- 
fense caused  him  doubtless  to  give  wider  extension 
and  bearing  to  this  question.  It  gave  him  the  op- 
portunity to  treat  of  freedom  of  thought  and  inquiry 
generally,  and  so  to  lay  the  foundation  of  the  first 
of  his  suggestive  writings,  which  have  conferred 
upon  him  literary  immortality.  In  the  village  to 
which  he  had  withdrawn,  1656-60,  and  later  in 
Rhynsburg,  where  he  also  spent  several  years, 
1660-64,  Spinoza  occupied  himself  (while  polishing 
lenses,  which  handicraft  he  had  learned  to  secure  his 
moderate  subsistence)  with  the  Cartesian  philosophy 
and  the  elaboration  of  the  work  entitled  "  The  Theo- 
logico-Political  Treatise."  His  prime  object  was  to 
spread  the  conviction  that  freedom  of  thought  can 
be  permitted  without  prejudice  to  religion  and  the 
peace  of  the  state  ;  furthermore,  that  it  must  be  per- 
mitted, for  if  it  were  forbidden,  religion  and  peace 
could  not  exist  in  the  state. 

The  apology  for  freedom  of  thought  had  been 
rendered  harder  rather  than  easier  for  Spinoza,  by 
the  subsidiary  ideas  with  which  he  crossed  the  main 

g6  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

lines  of  his  system.  He  could  not  philosophically 
find  the  source  of  law,  and  transferred  its  origin  to 
might.  Neither  God,  nor  man's  conscience,  accord- 
ing to  Spinoza,  is  the  fountain  of  the  eternal  law 
which  rules  and  civilizes  mankind  ;  it  springs  from 
the  whole  lower  natural  world.  He  made  men  to  a 
certain  extent  "like  the  fishes  of  the  sea,  like  creep- 
ing things,  which  have  no  master."  Large  fish  have 
the  right,  not  only  to  drink  water,  but  also  to  devour 
smaller  fish,  because  they  have  the  power  to  do  so ; 
the  sphere  of  right  of  the  individual  man  extends  as 
far  as  his  sphere  of  might.  This  natural  right  does 
not  recognize  the  difference  between  good  and  evil, 
virtue  and  vice,  submission  and  force.  But  because 
such  unlimited  assertion  on  the  part  of  each  must 
lead  to  a  perpetual  state  of  war  of  all  against  all, 
men  have  tacitly,  from  fear,  or  hope,  or  reason,  given 
up  their  unlimited  privileges  to  a  collective  body,  the 
state.  Out  of  two  evils — on  the  one  hand,  the  full 
possession  of  their  sphere  of  right  and  might,  tend- 
ing to  mutual  destruction,  and  its  alienation,  on  the 
other — men  have  chosen  the  latter  as  the  lesser 
evil.  The  state,  whether  represented  by  a  supreme 
authority  elected  for  the  purpose,  such  as  the  Dutch 
States  General,  or  by  a  despot,  is  the  full  possessor 
of  the  rights  of  all,  because  of  the  power  of  all. 
Every  one  is  bound  by  his  own  interest  to  uncondi- 
tional obedience,  even  if  he  should  be  commanded 
to  deprive  others  of  life ;  resistance  is  not  only  pun- 
ishable, but  contrary  to  reason.  This  supreme 
power  is  not  controlled  by  any  law.  Whether  ex- 
ercised by  an  individual,  as  in  a  monarchy,  or  by  sev- 
eral, as  in  a  republic,  it  is  justified  in  doing  every- 
thing, and  can  do  no  wrong.  But  the  state  has 
supreme  right  not  merely  over  actions  of  a  civil  na- 
ture, but  also  over  spiritual  and  religious  views  ;  it 
could  not  exist,  if  everyone  were  at  liberty  to  attack 
it  under  the  pretext  of  religion.  The  government 
alone  has  the  right  to  control  religious  affairs,  and 


to  define  belief,  unbelief,  orthodoxy,  and  heresy. 
What  a  tyrannical  conclusion  !  As  this  theory  of 
Spinoza  fails  to  recognize  moral  law,  so  it  ignores 
steadfast  fidelity.  As  soon  as  the  government 
grows  weak,  it  no  longer  has  claim  to  obedience  ; 
everyone  may  renounce  and  resist  it,  to  submit  him- 
self to  the  incoming  power.  According  to  this 
theory  of  civil  and  religious  despotism,  no  one  may 
have  an  opinion  about  the  laws  of  the  state,  other- 
wise he  is  a  rebel.  Spinoza's  theory  almost  does 
away  with  freedom,  even  of  thought  and  opinion. 
Whoever  speaks  against  a  state  ordinance  in  a 
fault-finding  spirit,  or  to  throw  odium  upon  the  gov- 
ernment, or  seeks  to  repeal  a  law  against  its  express 
wish,  should  be  regarded  as  a  disturber  of  the  public 
peace.  Only  through  a  sophistical  quibble  was 
Spinoza  able  to  save  freedom  of  thought  and  free 
expression  of  opinion.  Every  man  has  this  right  by 
nature,  the  only  one  which  he  has  not  transferred 
to  the  state,  because  it  is  essentially  inalienable.  It 
must  be  conceded  to  everyone  to  think  and  judge 
in  opposition  to  the  opinion  of  the  government,  even 
to  speak  and  teach,  provided  this  be  done  with 
reason  and  reflection,  without  fraud,  anger,  or 
malice,  and  without  the  intention  of  causing  a  revo- 

On  this  weak  basis,  supported  by  a  few  other  sec- 
ondary considerations,  Spinoza  justified  his  conflict 
with  Judaism  and  his  philosophical  attacks  upon  the 
sacred  writings  recognized  by  the  Dutch  States. 
He  thought  that  he  had  succeeded  in  justifying  him- 
self before  the  magistrates  sufficiently  by  his  defense 
of  freedom  of  thought.  In  the  formulation  of  this 
apology  it  was  apparent  that  he  was  not  indifferent 
to  the  treatment  which  he  had  experienced  from  the 
college  of  rabbis.  Spinoza  was  so  filled  with  dis- 
pleasure, if  not  with  hatred,  of  Jews  and  Judaism, 
that  his  otherwise  clear  judgment  was  biased.  He, 
like  Da  Costa,  called  the  rabbis  nothing  but  Phari- 

98  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

sees,  and  imputed  to  them  ambitious  and  degraded 
motives,  while  they  wished  only  to  secure  their 
treasured  beliefs  against  attacks.  Prouder  even 
than  his  contemporaries,  the  French  and  English 
philosophers,  of  freedom  of  thought,  for  centuries 
repressed  by  the  church,  and  now  soaring  aloft  the 
more  powerfully,  Spinoza  summoned  theology,  in 
particular,  ancient  Judaism  before  the  throne  of 
reason,  examined  its  dogmas  and  archives,  and  pro- 
nounced sentence  of  condemnation  upon  his  mother- 
faith.  He  had  erected  a  tower  of  thought  in  his 
brain  from  which,  as  it  were,  he  wished  to  storm 
heaven.  Spinoza's  philosophy  is  like  a  fine  net,  laid 
before  our  eyes,  mesh  by  mesh,  by  which  the  human 
understanding  is  unexpectedly  ensnared,  so  that 
half  voluntarily,  half  compulsorily,  it  surrenders. 
Spinoza  recognized,  as  no  thinker  before,  those 
universal  laws,  immutable  as  iron,  which  are  appar- 
ent in  the  development  of  the  most  insignificant 
grain  of  seed  no  less  than  in  the  revolution  of  the 
heavenly  bodies,  in  the  precision  of  mathematical 
thought  as  in  the  apparent  irregularity  of  human 
passions.  Whilst  these  laws  work  with  constant 
uniformity,  and  produce  the  same  causes  and  the 
same  phenomena  in  endless  succession,  the  instru- 
ments of  law  are  perishable  things,  creatures  of  a 
day,  which  rise,  and  vanish  to  give  place  to  others  : 
here  eternity,  there  temporality ;  on  the  one  side 
necessity,  on  the  other  chance  ;  here  reality,  there 
delusive  appearances.  These  and  other  enigmas 
Spinoza  sought  to  solve  with  the  penetration  that 
betrays  the  son  of  the  Talmud,  and  with  logical  con- 
secutiveness  and  masterly  arrangement,  for  which 
Aristotle  might  have  envied  him. 

The  whole  universe,  all  individual  things,  and 
their  active  powers  are,  according  to  Spinoza,  not 
merely  from  God,  but  of  God ;  they  constitute  the 
infinite  succession  of  forms  in  which  God  reveals 
Himself,  through  which  He  eternally  works  accord- 

CH.  iv.          SPINOZA'S  VIEW  OF  GOD  AND  MAN.  99 

ing  to  His  eternal  nature — the  soul,  as  it  were,  of 
thinking  bodies,  the  body  of  the  soul  extended  in 
space.  God  is  the  indwelling,  not  the  external 
efficient  cause  of  all  things  ;  all  is  in  God  and  moves 
in  God.  God  as  creator  and  generator  of  all  things 

o  c> 

is  generative  or  self-producing  nature.  The  whole 
of  nature  is  animate,  and  ideas,  as  bodies,  move  in 
eternity  on  lines  running  parallel  to  or  intersecting 
one  another.  Though  the  fullness  of  things  which 
have  proceeded  from  God  and  which  exist  in  Him 
are  not  of  an  eternal,  but  of  a  perishable  nature,  yet 
they  are  not  limited  or  defined  by  chance,  but  by  the 
necessity  of  the  divine  nature,  each  in  its  own  way 
existing  or  acting  within  its  smaller  or  larger  sphere. 
The  eternal  and  constant  nature  of  God  works  in 
them  through  the  eternal  laws  communicated  to 
them.  Things  could,  therefore,  not  be  constituted 
otherwise  than  they  are  ;  for  they  are  the  manifest- 
ations, entering  into  existence  in  an  eternal  stream, 
of  God  in  the  intimate  connection  of  thought  and 

What  is  man's  place  in  this  logical  system  ?  How 
is  he  to  act  and  work  ?  Even  he,  with  all  his  great- 
ness and  littleness,  his  strength  and  weakness,  his 
heaven-aspiring  mind,  and  his  body  subject  to  the 
need  of  sustenance,  is  nothing  more  than  a  form  of 
existence  (Modus)  of  God.  Man  after  man,  genera- 
tion after  generation,  springs  up  and  perishes,  flows 
away  like  a  drop  in  a  perpetual  stream,  but  his 
nature,  the  laws  by  which  he  moves  bodily  and  men- 
tally in  the  peculiar  connection  of  mind  and  matter, 
reflect  the  Divine  Being.  Especially  the  human 
mind,  or  rather  the  various  modes  of  thought,  the 
feelings  and  conceptions  of  all  men,  form  the  eternal 
reason  of  God.  But  man  is  as  little  free  as  things, 
as  the  stone  which  rolls  down  from  the  mountain  ; 
he  has  to  obey  the  causes  which  influence  him  from 
within  and  without.  Each  of  his  actions  is  the  pro- 
duct of  an  infinite  series  of  causes  and  effects,  which 

IOO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

he  can  scarcely  discern,  much  less  control  and 
alter  at  will.  The  good  man  and  the  bad,  the  martyr 
who  sacrifices  himself  for  a  noble  object,  as  well  as 
the  execrable  villain  and  the  murderer,  are  all  like 
clay  in  the  hands  of  God  ;  they  act,  the  one  well,  the 
other  ill,  compelled  by  their  inner  nature.  They  all 
act  from  rigid  necessity.  No  man  can  reproach 
God  for  having  given  him  a  weak  nature  or  a 
clouded  intellect,  as  it  would  be  irrational  if  a  circle 
should  complain  that  God  has  not  given  it  the  nature 
and  properties  of  the  sphere,  It  is  not  the  lot  of 
every  man  to  be  strong-minded,  and  it  lies  as  little 
in  his  power  to  have  a  sound  mind  as  a  sound  body. 
On  one  side  man  is,  to  a  certain  extent,  free,  or 
rather  some  men  of  special  mental  endowments  can 
free  themselves  a  little  from  the  pressure  exercised 
upon  them.  Man  is  a  slave  chiefly  through  his 
passions.  Love,  hate,  anger,  thirst  for  glory,  avarice, 
make  him  the  slave  of  the  external  world.  These 
passions  spring  from  the  perplexity  of  the  soul,  which 
thinks  it  can  control  things,  but  wears  itself  out,  so 
to  speak,  against  their  obstinate  resistance,  and 
suffers  pain  thereby.  The  better  the  soul  suc- 
ceeds in  comprehending  the  succession  of  causes 
and  effects  and  the  necessity  of  phenomena  in  the 
plan  of  the  universe,  the  better  able  is  it  to  change 
pain  into  a  sense  of  comfort.  Through  higher 
insight,  man,  if  he  allows  himself  to  be  led  by  reason, 
can  acquire  strength  of  soul,  and  feel  increased  love 
to  God,  that  is,  to  the  eternal  whole.  On  the  one 
hand,  this  secures  nobility  of  mind  to  aid  men  and 
to  win  them  by  mildness  and  benevolence ;  and 
creates,  on  the  other,  satisfaction,  joy,  and  happiness. 
He  who  is  gifted  with  highest  knowledge  lives  in 
God,  and  God  in  him.  Knowledge  is  virtue,  as 
ignorance  is,  to  a  certain  extent,  vice.  Whilst  the 
wise  man,  or  strictly  speaking,  the  philosopher, 
thanks  to  his  higher  insight  and  his  love  of  God, 
enjoys  tranquillity  of  soul,  the  man  of  clouded  intel- 


lect,  who  abandons  himself  to  the  madness  of  his 
passions,  must  dispense  with  this  joyousness,  and 
often  perishes  in  consequence.  The  highest  virtue, 
according  to  Spinoza's  system,  is  self-renunciation 
through  knowledge,  keeping  in  a  state  of  passive- 
ness,  coming  as  little  as  possible  in  contact  with  the 
crushing  machinery  offerees — avoiding  them  if  they 
come  near,  or  submitting  to  them  if  their  wild  career 
overthrows  the  individual.  But  as  he  who  is  beset 
by  desires  deserves  no  blame,  so  no  praise  is  due 
the  wise  man  who  practices  self-renunciation  ;  both 
follow  the  law  of  their  nature.  Higher  knowledge 
and  wisdom  cannot  be  attained  if  the  conditions 
are  wanting,  namely,  a  mind  susceptible  of  know- 
ledge and  truth,  which  one  can  neither  give  himself, 
nor  throw  off.  Man  has  thus  no  final  aim,  any  more 
than  the  eternal  substance. 

Spinoza's  moral  doctrines — ethics  in  the  narrower 
sense — are  just  as  unfruitful  as  his  political  theories. 
In  either  case,  he  recognizes  submission  as  the  only 
rational  course. 

With  this  conception  of  God  and  moral  action,  it 
cannot  surprise  us  that  Judaism  found  no  favor  in 
Spinoza's  eyes.  Judaism  lays  down  directly  op- 
posite principles — beckons  man  to  a  high,  self- 
reliant  task,  and  proclaims  aloud  the  progress  of 
mankind  in  simple  service  of  God,  holiness,  and 
victory  over  violence,  the  sword,  and  degrading  war. 
This  progress  has  been  furthered  in  many  ways  by 
Judaism  in  the  course  of  ages.  Wanting,  as  Spinoza 
was,  in  apprehension  of  historical  events,  more  won- 
derful than  the  phenomena  of  nature,  and  unable  as 
he  therefore  was  to  accord  to  Judaism  special  impor- 
tance, he  misconceived  it  still  further  through  his 
bitterness  against  the  Amsterdam  college  of  rabbis, 
who  pardonably  enough,  had  excommunicated  him. 
Spinoza  transferred  his  bitterness  against  the  com- 
munity to  the  whole  Jewish  race  and  to  Judaism. 
As  has  been  already  said,  he  called  the  rabbis 

IO2  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

Pharisees  in  his  "  Theologico-Political  Treatise  "  and 
in  letters  to  his  friends,  and  gave  the  most  invidious 
meaning  to  this  word.  To  Christianity,  on  the 
contrary,  Spinoza  conceded  great  excellencies  ;  he 
regarded  Judaism  with  displeasure,  therefore,  de- 
tected deficiencies  and  absurdities  everywhere,  while 
he  cast  a  benevolent  eye  upon  Christianity,  and 
overlooked  its  weaknesses.  Spinoza,  therefore,  with 
all  the  instinct  for  truth  which  characterized  him, 
formed  a  conception  of  Judaism  which,  in  some 
degree  just,  was,  in  many  points,  perverse  and  de- 
fective. Clear  as  his  mind  was  in  metaphysical 
inquiries,  it  was  dark  and  confused  on  historical 
ground.  To  depreciate  Judaism,  Spinoza  declared 
that  the  books  of  Holy  Scripture  contain  scribes' 
errors,  interpolations,  and  disfigurements,  and  are 
not,  as  a  rule,  the  work  of  the  authors  to  whom  they 
are  ascribed — not  even  the  Pentateuch,  the  original 
source  of  Judaism.  Ezra,  perhaps,  first  collected 
and  arranged  it  after  the  Babylonian  exile.  The 
genuine  writings  of  Moses  are  no  longer  extant, 
not  even  the  Ten  Commandments  being  in  their 
original  form.  Nevertheless,  Spinoza  accepted 
every  word  in  the  Bible  as  a  kind  of  revelation,  and 
designated  all  persons  who  figure  in  it  as  prophets. 
He  conceded,  on  the  ground  of  Scripture,  that  the 
revelation  of  the  prophets  was  authenticated  by 
visible  signs.  Nevertheless,  he  very  much  under- 
rated this  revelation.  Moses,  the  prophets,  and  all 
the  higher  personages  of  the  Bible  had  only  a  con- 
fused notion  of  God,  nature,  and  living  beings  ;  they 
were  not  philosophers,  they  did  not  avail  themselves 
of  the  natural  light  of  reason.  Jesus  stood  higher ; 
he  taught  not  only  a  nation,  but  the  whole  of  man- 
kind on  rational  grounds.  The  Apostles,  too,  were 
to  be  set  higher  than  the  prophets,  since  they  intro- 
duced a  natural  method  of  instruction,  and  worked 
not  merely  through  signs,  but  also  through  rational 
conviction.  As  though  the  main  effort  of  the  Apos- 

CH.   IV.  THE    JEWISH    THEOCRACY.  1 03 

ties,  to  which  their  whole  zeal  was  devoted,  viz.,  to 
reach  belief  in  the  miraculous  resurrection  of  Jesus, 
were  consistent  with  reason  !  It  was  only  Spinoza's 
bitterness  against  Jews  which  caused  him  to  depre- 
ciate their  spiritual  property  and  overrate  Chris- 
tianity. His  sober  intellect,  penetrating  to  the 
eternal  connection  of  things  and  events,  could  not 
accept  miracles,  but  those  of  the  New  Testament 
he  judged  mildly. 

In  spite  of  his  condemnatory  verdict  on  Judaism, 
he  was  struck  by  two  phenomena,  which  he  did  not 
fully  understand,  and  which,  therefore,  he  judged  only 
superficially  according  to  his  system.  These  were 
the  moral  greatness  of  the  prophets,  and  the  super- 
iority of  the  Israelite  state,  which  in  a  measure  de- 
pend on  each  other.  Without  understanding  the 
political  organization,  in  which  natural  and  moral 
laws,  necessity  and  freedom  work  together,  Spinoza 
explains  the  origin  of  the  Jewish  state,  that  is,  of 
Judaism,  in  the  following  manner :  When  the  Israel- 
ites, after  deliverance  from  slavery  in  Egypt,  were 
free  from  all  political  bondage,  and  restored  to  their 
natural  rights,  they  willingly  chose  God  as  their 
Lord,  and  transferred  their  rights  to  Him  alone  by 
formal  contract  and  alliance.  That  there  be  no  ap- 
pearance of  fraud  on  the  divine  side,  God  permitted 
them  to  recognize  His  marvelous  power,  by  virtue 
of  which  He  had  hitherto  preserved,  and  promised 
in  future  to  preserve  them,  that  is,  He  revealed 
Himself  to  them  in  His  glory  on  Sinai ;  thus  God 
became  the  King  of  Israel  and  the  state  a  theo- 
cracy. Religious  opinions  and  truths,  therefore,  had 
a  legal  character  in  this  state,  religion  and  civic  right 
coincided.  Whoever  revolted  from  religion  forfeited 
his  rights  as  a  citizen,  and  whoever  died  for  religion 
was  a  patriot.  Pure  democratic  equality,  the  right 
of  all  to  entreat  God  and  interpret  the  laws,  pre- 
vailed among  the  Israelites.  But  when,  in  the  over- 
powering bewilderment  of  the  revelation  from  Sinai. 

IO4  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

they  voluntarily  asked  Moses  to  receive  the  laws 
from  God  and  to  interpret  them,  they  renounced 
their  equality,  and  transferred  their  rights  to  Moses. 
Moses  from  that  time  became  God's  representative. 
Hence,  he  promulgated  laws  suited  to  the  condition 
of  the  people  at  that  time,  and  introduced  cere- 
monies to  remind  them  always  of  the  Law  and  keep 
them  from  willfulness,  so  that  in  accordance  with  a 
definite  precept  they  should  plough,  sow,  eat,  clothe 
themselves,  in  a  word,  do  everything  according  to 
the  precepts  of  the  Law.  Above  all,  he  provided 
that  they  might  not  act  from  childish  or  slavish  fear, 
but  from  reverence  for  God.  He  bound  them  by 
benefits,  and  promised  them  earthly  prosperity — all 
through  the  power  and  by  the  command  of  God. 
Moses  was  vested  with  spiritual  and  civil  power,  and 
authorized  to  transmit  both.  He  preferred  to  trans- 
fer the  civil  power  to  his  disciple  Joshua  in  full,  but 
not  as  a  heritage,  and  the  spiritual  power  to  his 
brother  Aaron  as  a  heritage,  but  limited  by  the  civil 
ruler,  and  not  accompanied  by  a  grant  of  territory. 
After  the  death  of  Moses  the  Jewish  state  was 
neither  a  monarchy,  nor  an  aristocracy,  nor  a 
democracy  ;  it  remained  a  theocracy.  The  family 
of  the  high-priest  was  God's  interpreter,  and  the 
civil  power,  after  Joshua's  death,  fell  to  single  tribes 
or  their  chiefs. 

This  constitution  offered  many  advantages.  The 
civil  rulers  could  not  turn  the  law  to  their  own 
advantage,  nor  oppress  the  people,  for  the  Law  was 
the  province  of  the  sacerdotal  order — the  sons  of 
Aaron  and  the  Levites.  Besides,  the  people  were 
made  acquainted  with  the  Law  through  the  pre- 
scribed reading  at  the  close  of  the  Sabbatical  year, 
and  would  not  have  passed  over  with  indifference 
any  willful  transgression  of  the  law  of  the  state. 
The  army  was  composed  of  native  militia,  while 
foreigners,  that  is,  mercenaries,  were  excluded. 
Thus  the  rulers  were  prevented  from  oppressing 


the  people  or  waging  war  arbitrarily.  The  tribes 
were  united  by  religion,  and  the  oppression  of 
one  tribe  by  its  ruler  would  have  been  punished 
by  the  rest.  The  princes  were  not  placed  at  the 
head  through  rank  or  privilege  of  blood,  but  through 
capacity  and  merit.  Finally,  the  institution  of 
prophets  proved  very  wholesome.  Since  the  con- 
stitution was  theocratical,  every  one  of  blameless 
life  was  able  through  certain  signs  to  represent  him- 
self as  a  prophet  like  Moses,  draw  the  oppressed 
people  to  him  in  the  name  of  God,  and  oppose  the 
tyranny  of  the  rulers.  This  peculiar  constitution 
produced  in  the  heart  of  the  Israelites  an  especial 
patriotism,  which  was  at  the  same  time  a  religion,  so 
that  no  one  would  betray  it,  leave  God's  kingdom, 
or  swear  allegiance  to  a  foreigner.  This  love, 
coupled  with  hatred  against  other  nations,  and  fos- 
tered by  daily  worship  of  God,  became  second  nature 
to  the  Israelites.  It  strengthened  them  to  endure 
everything  for  their  country  with  steadfastness  and 
courage.  This  constitution  offered  a  further  advan- 
tage, because  the  land  was  equally  divided,  and  no 
one  could  be  permanently  deprived  of  his  portion 
through  poverty,  as  restitution  had  to  be  made  in  the 
year  of  jubilee. 

Hence,  there  was  little  poverty,  or  such  only  as 
was  endurable,  for  the  love  of  one's  neighbor  had  to 
be  exercised  with  the  greatest  conscientiousness  to 
keep  the  favor  of  God,  the  King.  Finally,  a  large 
space  was  accorded  to  gladness.  Thrice  a  year  and 
on  other  occasions  the  people  were  to  assemble  at 
festivals,  not  to  revel  in  sensual  enjoyments,  but  to 
accustom  themselves  to  follow  God  gladly ;  for 
there  is  no  more  effectual  means  of  guiding  the 
hearts  of  men  than  the  joy  which  arises  from  love 
and  admiration. 

After  Spinoza  had  depicted  Israel's  theocracy 
quite  as  a  pattern  for  all  states,  he  was  apparently 
startled  at  having  imparted  so  much  light  to  the 

IO6  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

picture,  and  he  looked  around  for  shade.  Instead 
of  answering  in  a  purely  historical  manner  the  ques- 
tions, whence  it  came  that  the  Hebrews  were  so 
often  subdued,  and  why  their  state  was  entirely  de- 
stroyed ;  instead  of  indicating  that  these  wholesome 
laws  remained  a  never  realized  ideal,  Spinoza  sug- 
gests a  sophistic  solution.  Because  God  did  not 
wish  to  make  Israel's  dominion  lasting,  he  gave  bad 
laws  and  statutes.  Spinoza  supports  this  view  by  a 
verse  which  he  misunderstood.  These  bad  laws, 
rebellion  against  the  sacerdotal  state,  coupled  with 
bad  morals,  produced  discontent,  revolt,  and  insur- 
rection. At  last  matters  went  so  far,  that  instead 
of  the  Divine  King,  the  Israelites  chose  a  human 
one,  and  instead  of  the  temple,  a  court.  Monarchy, 
however,  only  increased  the  disorder  ;  it  could  not 
endure  the  state  within  the  state,  the  high-priest- 
hood, and  lowered  the  dignity  of  the  latter  by  the 
introduction  of  strange  worship.  The  prophets 
could  avail  nothing,  because  they  only  declaimed 
against  the  tyrants,  but  could  not  remove  the  cause 
of  the  evils.  All  things  combined  brought  on  the 
destruction  of  the  divine  state.  With  its  destruc- 
tion by  the  Babylonian  king,  the  natural  rights  of 
the  Israelites  were  transferred  to  the  conqueror,  and 
they  were  bound  to  obey  him  and  his  successors,  as 
they  had  obeyed  God.  All  the  laws  of  Judaism, 
nay,  the  whole  of  Judaism,  was  thereby  abolished, 
and  no  longer  had  any  significance.  This  was  the 
result  of  Spinoza's  inquiry  in  his  "  Theologico- 
Political  Treatise."  Judaism  had  a  brilliant  past, 
God  concluded  an  alliance  with  the  people,  showed 
to  them  His  exalted  power,  and  gave  them  excel- 
lent laws  ;  but  He  did  not  intend  Israel's  preemi- 
nence to  be  permanent,  therefore  He  also  gave  bad 
laws.  Consequently,  Judaism  reached  its  end  more 
than  two  thousand  years  ago,  and  yet  it  continued 
its  existence  !  Wonderful  !  Spinoza  found  the 
history  of  Israel  and  the  constitution  of  the  state 


excellent  during  the  barbarism  of  the  period  of  the 
Judges,  while  the  brilliant  epochs  of  David  and  Sol- 
omon and  of  King  Uzziah  remained  inexplicable  to 
him.  And,  above  all,  the  era  of  the  second  Temple, 
the  Maccabean  epoch,  when  the  Jewish  nation  rose 
from  shameful  degradation  to  a  brilliant  height,  and 
brought  the  heathen  world  itself  to  worship  the  one 
God  and  adopt  a  moral  life,  remained  to  Spinoza  an 
insoluble  riddle.  This  shows  that  his  whole  dem- 
onstration and  his  analysis  (schematism)  cannot 
stand  the  test  of  criticism,  but  rests  on  false 

Spinoza  might  have  brought  Judaism  into  extreme 
peril ;  for  he  not  only  furnished  its  opponents  with  the 
weapons  of  reason  to  combat  Judaism  more  effect- 
ually, but  also  conceded  to  every  state  and  magis- 
trate the  right  to  suppress  it  and  use  force  against 
its  followers,  to  which  they  ought  meekly  to  submit. 
The  funeral  piles  of  the  Inquisition  for  Marranos 
were,  according  to  Spinoza's  system,  doubly  justified; 
citizens  have  no  right  on  rational  grounds  to  resist 
the  recognized  religion  of  the  state,  and  it  is  folly  to 
profess  Judaism  and  to  sacrifice  oneself  for  it.  But 
a  peculiar  trait  of  Spinoza's  character  stood  Judaism 
in  good  stead.  He  loved  peace  and  quiet  too  well 
to  become  a  propagandist  for  his  critical  principles. 
"To  be  peaceable  and  peaceful"  was  his  ideal; 
avoidance  of  conflict  and  opposition  was  at  once  his 
strength  and  his  weakness.  To  his  life's  end  he  led 
an  ideally-philosophical  life  ;  for  food,  clothing,  and 
shelter,  he  needed  only  so  much  as  he  could  earn 
with  his  handicraft  of  polishing  lenses,  which  his 
friends  disposed  of.  He  struggled  against  accept- 
ing a  pension,  customarily  bestowed  on  learned  men 
at  that  time,  even  from  his  sincere  and  rich  admirers, 
Simon  de  Vries  and  the  grand  pensionary  De  Witt, 
that  he  might  not  fall  into  dependence,  constraint, 
and  disquiet.  By  reason  of  this  invincible  desire  for 
philosophic  calm  and  freedom  from  care,  he  would 

IO8  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

not  decide  in  favor  of  either  of  the  political  parties, 
then  setting  the  Sta'tes  General  in  feverish  agitation. 
Not  even  the  exciting  murder  of  his  friend  John  de 
Witt  was  able  to  hurry  him  into  partisanship.  Spi- 
noza bewailed  his  high  and  noble  friend,  but  did  not 
defend  his  honor,  to  clear  it  of  suspicion.  When  the 
most  highly  cultivated  German  prince  of  his  time, 
Count-Palatine  Karl  Ludwig,  who  cherished  a  cer- 
tain affection  for  Jews,  offered  him,  "  the  Protestant 
Jew,"  as  he  was  still  called,  the  chair  of  philosophy 
in  the  University  of  Heidelberg  under  very  favor- 
able conditions,  Spinoza  declined  the  offer.  He  did 
not  conceal  his  reason  :  he  would  not  surrender  his 
quietude.  From  this  predominant  tendency,  or, 
rather,  from  fear  of  disturbance  and  inconveniences 
and  from  apprehension  of  calling  enemies  down 
upon  him,  or  of  coming  into  collision  with  the  state, 
he  refused  to  publish  his  speculations  for  a  long  time. 
When  at  last  he  resolved,  on  the  pressure  of  friends, 
to  send  "  The  Theolooaco-Political  Treatise '  to 


press,  he  did  not  put  his  name  to  the  work,  which 
made  an  epoch  in  literature,  and  even  caused 
a  false  place  of  publication,  viz.,  Hamburg,  to  be 
printed  on  the  title-page,  in  order  to  obliterate  every 
trace  of  its  real  authorship.  He  almost  denied  his 
offspring,  to  avoid  being  disturbed. 

As  might  have  been  foreseen,  the  appearance  of 
"The  Theologico-Political  Treatise"  (1670),  made 
an  extraordinary  stir.  No  one  had  written  so  dis- 
tinctly and  incisively  concerning  the  relation  of 
religion  to  philosophy  and  the  power  of  the  state, 
and,  above  all,  had  so  sharply  condemned  the  clergy. 
The  ministers  of  all  denominations  were  extraordi- 
narily excited  against  this  "godless"  book,  as  it 
was  called,  which  disparaged  revealed  religion.  Spi- 
noza's influential  friends  were  not  able  to  protect  it ; 
it  was  condemned  by  a  decree  of  the  States  General, 
and  forbidden  to  be  sold — which  only  caused  it  to 
be  read  more  eagerly.  But  Spinoza  was  the  more 


reluctant  to  publish  his  other  writings,  especially  his 
philosophical  system.  With  all  his  strength  of 
character,  he  did  not  belong  to  those  bold  spirits, 
who  undertake  to  be  the  pioneers  of  truth,  who  usher 
it  into  the  world  with  loud  voice,  and  win  it  adher- 
ents, unconcerned  as  to  whether  they  may  have  to 
endure  bloody  or  bloodless  martyrdom.  In  the  un- 
selfishness of  Spinoza's  character  and  system  there 
lurked  an  element  of  selfishness,  namely,  the  desire 
to  be  disturbed  as  little  as  possible  in  the  attain- 
ment of  knowledge,  in  the  happiness  of  contempla- 
tion, and  in  reflection  upon  the  universe  and  the 
chain  of  causes  and  effects  which  prevail  in  it.  A 
challenge  to  action,  effort,  and  resistance  to  opposi- 
tion lay  neither  in  Spinoza's  temper,  nor  in  his 

In  this  apparently  harmless  feature  lay  also  the 
reason  that  his  most  powerful  and  vehemently  con- 
ducted attacks  upon  Judaism  made  no  deep  impres- 
sion, and  called  forth  no  great  commotion  in  the 
Jewish  world.  At  the  time  when  Spinoza  threw 
down  the  challenge  to  Judaism,  a  degree  of  culture 
and  science  prevailed  in  the  Jewish-Portuguese 
circle,  unkown  either  before  or  after ;  there  reigned 
in  the  community  of  Amsterdam  and  its  colonies  a 
literary  activity  and  fecundity,  which  might  be  called 
classical,  if  the  merit  of  the  literary  productions  had 
corresponded  with  their  compass.  The  authors 
were  chiefly  cultivated  Marranos,  who  had  escaped 
from  the  Spanish  or  Portuguese  prisons  of  the  In- 
quisition to  devote  themselves  in  free  Holland  to  their 
faith  and  free  inquiry.  There  were  philosophers, 
physicians,  mathematicians,  philologists,  poets,  even 
poetesses.  Many  of  these  Marranos  who  escaped 
to  Amsterdam  had  gonethrough  peculiarvicissitudes. 
A  monk  of  Valencia,  Fray  Vincent  de  Rocamora 
(1601-1684),  had  been  eminent  in  Catholic  theol- 
ogy. He  had  been  made  confessor  to  the  Infanta 
Maria,  afterwards  empress  of  Germany  and  a  per- 

IIO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

secutor  of  the  Jews.  One  day  the  confessor  fled 
from  Spain,  reached  Amsterdam,  declared  himself 
as  Isaac  de  Rocamora,  studied  medicine  at  the  age 
of  forty,  and  became  the  happy  father  of  a  family 
and  president  of  Jewish  benevolent  institutions. 
The  quondam  monk,  afterwards  Parnass  (president 
of  the  community),  was  also  a  good  poet,  and  wrote 
admirable  Spanish  and  Latin  verses. 

Enrique  Enriquez  de  Paz  of  Segovia  (1600-1660), 
the  Jewish  Calderon,  had  a  very  different  career. 
Having  entered  the  army  while  young,  he  behaved 
so  gallantly  that  he  won  the  order  of  San  Miguel, 
and  was  made  captain.  Besides  the  sword,  he 
wielded  the  pen,  with  which  he  described  comic  fig- 
ures and  situations.  Enriquez  de  Paz,  or,  as  he 
was  styled  in  his  poetical  capacity,  Antonio  Enri- 
quez de  Gomez,  composed  more  than  two  and 
twenty  comedies,  some  of  which  were  put  upon  the 
stage  at  Madrid,  and,  being  taken  for  Calderon's  pro- 
ductions, were  received  with  much  applause.  Neither 
Mars  nor  the  Muses  succeeded  in  protecting  him 
against  the  Inquisition  ;  he  could  escape  its  clutches 
only  by  rapid  flight.  He  lived  a  long  time  in  France. 
His  prolific  muse  celebrated  Louis  XIV,  the  queen 
of  France,  the  powerful  statesman  Richelieu,  and 
other  high  personages  of  the  court.  He  bewailed 
in  elegies  his  misfortunes  and  the  loss  of  his  country, 
which  he  loved  like  a  son,  step-mother  though  she 
had  been  to  him.  Although  blessed  by  fortune, 
Enriquez  de  Paz  felt  himself  unhappy  in  the  rude 
north,  far  from  the  blue  mountains  and  mild  air  of 
Spain.  He  lamented : 

"  I  have  won  for  myself  wealth  and  traveled  over  many  seas,  and 
heaped  up  ever  fresh  treasures  by  thousands ;  now  my  hair  is 
bleached,  my  beard  as  snowy  white  as  my  silver  bars,  the  reward  of 
my  labors." 

He  lived  in  France,  too,  as  a  Christian,  but  pro- 
claimed his  sympathy  with  Judaism  by  mourning  in 
elegiac  verses  the  martyrdom  of  Lope  de  Vera  y 


Alarcon.      Finally  he  settled  down  in  the  asylum  of 
the  Marranos,  whilst  his  effigy  was  burnt  on  the  fun- 
eral pile  at  Seville.     There  had  been  again  a  great 
auto-da-fe  (1660)  of  sixty  Marranos,  of  whom  four 
were  first  strangled  and  then  burned,  whilst  three 
were  burned  alive.     Effigies  of  escaped  Marranos 
were  borne  along   in  procession,  and  thrown   into 
the  flames — amongst  them  that  of  the  knight  of 
San     Miguel,    the    writer    of    comedies.     A    new- 
Christian,  who  was  present  at  this  horrible  sight, 
and  soon  after  escaped  to  Amsterdam,  met  Gomez 
in    the    street,    and    exclaimed    excitedly:     "Ah! 
Sefior   Gomez  !     I   saw   your   effigy   burn    on    the 
funeral  pile  at  Seville  !  "     "  Well,"  he  replied,  "  they 
are  welcome  to  it."    Along  with  his  numerous  secu- 
lar  poems,   Enriquez    Gomez    left   one   of  Jewish 
national  interest  in  celebration  of  the  hero-judge 
Samson.     The    laurels    which   the   older    Spanish 
poet  Miguel   Silveyra,  also  a  Marrano,  whom   he 
admired,  had    won  by  his  epic,   "  The  Maccabee," 
haunted  him  until  he  had  brought  out  a  companion 
piece.     To  the  blind  hero  who  avenged  himself  on 
the  Philistines  by  his  very  death,  Gomez  assigned 
verses  which  expressed  his  own  heart : 

"  I  die  for  Thy  holy  word,  for  Thy  religion, 
For  Thy  doctrine,  Thy  hallowed  commandments, 
For  the  nation  adopted  by  Thy  choice, 
For  Thy  sublime  ordinance  I  die." 

Another  point  of  view  is  presented  by  two  emi- 
grant Marranos  of  this  period,  father  and  son,  the 
two  Pensos,  the  one  rich  in  possessions  and  charity, 
the  other  in  poetical  gifts.  They  probably  sprang 
from  Espejo,  in  the  province  of  Cordova,  escaped 
from  the  fury  of  the  Inquisition,  and  at  last  settled, 
after  many  changes  of  residence,  as  Jews  in  Am- 
sterdam. Isaac  Penso  (died  1683)  the  elder,  a 
banker,  was  a  father  to  the  poor.  He  spent  a  tithe 
of  the  income  from  his  property  on  the  poor,  and 
distributed,  up  to  his  death,  40,000  gulden.  His 

112  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.    IV. 

decease  aroused  deep  regret  in  the  community  of 
Amsterdam.  His  son  (Felice)  Joseph  Penso,  also 
called  De  la  Vega  from  his  mother's  family  (1650- 
1703),  was  a  rich  merchant,  and  turned  his  atten- 
tion to  poetry.  A  youth  of  seventeen,  he  awoke 
the  long-slumbering  echo  of  neo-Hebraic  poesy, 
and  caused  it  to  strike  its  highest  note.  Joseph 
Penso  boldly  undertook  a  most  difficult  task  ;  he 
composed  a  Hebrew  drama.  Since  Immanuel 
Romi  had  written  his  witty  tales  in  verse,  the  neo- 
Hebraic  muse  had  been  stricken  with  sterility,  for 
which  the  increasing  troubles  of  the  times  were  not 
alone  to  blame.  Moses  da  Rieti  and  the  poetic 
school  of  Salonica  composed  verses,  but  did  not 
write  poetry.  Even  the  greatest  of  Jewish  poets, 
Gebirol  and  Jehuda  Halevi,  had  produced  only  lyric 
and  didactic  poetry,  and  had  not  thought  of  the 
drama.  Joseph  Penso,  inspired  by  the  poetical  air 
of  Spain,  the  land  of  his  birth,  where  Lope  de 
Vega's  and  Calderon's  melodious  verses  were 
heard  beside  the  litany  of  the  monks  and  the  cry  of 
the  sacrificial  victims,  transferred  Spanish  art 
forms  to  neo-Hebraic  poetry.  Penso  happily  imi- 
tated the  various  kinds  of  metre  and  strophe  of 
European  poetry  in  the  language  of  David  and 

One  may  not,  indeed,  apply  a  severe  standard  to 
Joseph  Penso's  drama,  but  should  endeavor  to  for- 
get that  long  before  him  Shakespeare  had  created 
life-like  forms  and  interests,  For,  measured  by 
these,  Penso's  dramatic  monologue  and  dialogue 
seem  puerile.  However  free  from  blame  his  versi- 
fication is,  the  invention  is  poor,  the  ideas  common- 
place. A  king  who  takes  a  serious  view  of  his  re- 
sponsibilities as  ruler  is  led  astray,  now  by  his  own 
impulses  (Yezer),  now  by  a  coquette  (Isha),  now  by 
Satan.  Three  other  opposing  forces  endeavor  to 
lead  him  in  the  right  way — his  own  judgment 
(Sechel),  divine  inspiration  (Hashgacha),  and  an 

CH.  IV.  JOSEPH    PENSO.  113 

angel.  These  are  the  characters  in  Penso's  drama 
"  The  Captives  of  Hope  "  (Asire  ha-Tikwah).  But 
if  one  takes  into  consideration  the  object  which 
Penso  had  in  view,  viz.,  to  hold  up  a  mirror  to  Mar- 
rano  youths  settled  at  Amsterdam,  who  had  been 
used  to  Spanish  licentiousness,  and  to  picture  to 
them  the  high  value  of  a  virtuous  life,  the  perform- 
ance of  the  youthful  poet  is  not  to  be  despised. 
Joseph  Penso  de  la  Vega  composed  a  large  number 
of  verses  in  Spanish,  occasional  poetry,  moral  and 
philosophical  reflections,  and  eulogies  on  princes. 
His  novels,  entitled  "  The  Dangerous  Courses " 
(los  Rumbos  peligrosos),  were  popular. 

Marrano  poets  of  mediocre  ability  were  so  nu- 
merous at  this  time  in  Amsterdam,  that  one  of  them, 
the  Spanish  resident  in  the  Netherlands,  Manuel 
Belmonte  (Isaac  Nunes),  appointed  count-palatine, 
founded  an  academy  of  poetry.  Poetical  works 
were  to  be  handed  in,  and  as  judges  he  appointed 
the  former  confessor,  De  Rocamora,  and  another 
Marrano,  who  composed  Latin  verses,  Isaac  Gomez 
de  Sosa.  The  latter  was  so  much  enraptured  of 
Penso's  Hebrew  drama,  that  he  triumphantly  pro- 
claimed, in  Latin  verse  : 

"  Now  is  it  at  length  attained  !  The  Hebrew  Muse  strides  along  on 
high-heeled  buskin  safe  and  sound.  With  the  measured  step  of 
poetry  she  is  conducted  auspiciously  by  Joseph — sprung  from  that 
race  which  still  is  mostly  in  captivity.  Lo  !  a  clear  beam  of  hope 
shines  afresh,  that  now  even  the  stage  may  be  opened  to  sacred  song. 
Yet  why  do  I  praise  him  ?  The  poet  is  celebrated  by  his  own  poetry, 
and  his  own  work  proclaims  the  praise  of  the  master." 

Another  of  the  friends  of  the  Jewish  dramatist 
was  Nicolas  de  Oliver  y  Fullana  (Daniel  Jehuda), 
poet,  and  colonel  in  the  Spanish  service  ;  he  was 
knighted,  entered  the  service  of  Holland,  and  was 
an  accurate  cartographer  and  cosmographer.  There 
was  also  Joseph  Szemach  (Sameh)  Arias,  a  man  of 
high  military  rank,  who  translated  into  Spanish  the 
work  of  the  historian  Josephus  against  Apion,  which 
controverted  the  old  prejudices  and  falsehoods 

114  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.V  CH.   IV. 

against  Jews.  This  polemic  was  not  superfluous 
even  at  this  time.  Of  the  Jewish  Marrano  poet- 
esses, it  will  suffice  to  name  the  fair  and  gifted 
Isabel  Correa  (Rebecca),  who  twined  a  wreath  of 
various  poems,  and  translated  the  Italian  popular 
drama,  "  The  True  Shepherd "  (Pastor  Fido,  by 
Guarini)  into  beautiful  Spanish  verse.  Isabel  was 
the  second  wife  of  the  poet-warrior,  De  Oliver  y 

Of  a  far  different  stamp  was  the  Marrano 
Thomas  de  Pinedo  (Isaac,  1614-1679)  of  Portugal, 
educated  in  a  Jesuit  college  at  Madrid.  He  was 
more  at  home  in  classical  than  in  Jewish  antiquity, 
and  applied  himself  to  a  branch  of  study  little  culti- 
vated in  Spain  in  his  time,  that  of  ancient  geogra- 
phy. He,  too,  was  driven  out  of  Spain  by  the  In- 
quisition, and  deemed  himself  fortunate  to  have 
escaped  unhurt.  The  philologist  De  Pinedo  dwelt 
later  on  in  Amsterdam,  where  he  printed  his  com- 
prehensive work.  He  composed  his  own  epitaph 
in  Latin. 

We  must  not  leave  unmentioned  a  personage 
celebrated  at  that  time  perhaps  beyond  his  deserts, 
Jacob  Jehuda  Leon  (Templo,  1603-1671).  If  not  a 
Marrano,  he  was  of  Marrano  descent,  and  resided 
first  at  Middelburg,  then  at  Amsterdam,  and  was 
more  an  artist  than  a  man  of  science.  Leon  de- 
voted himself  to  the  reproduction  of  the  first  Tem- 
ple and  its  vessels,  as  they  are  described  in  the 
Bible  and  the  Talmud.  He  executed  a  model  of 
the  Temple  on  a  reduced  scale  (3  yards  square,  i  */£ 
in  height),  and  added  a  concise,  clear  description  in 
Spanish  and  Hebrew.  Work  of  so  unusual  a  char- 
acter attracted  extraordinary  notice  at  a  time  when 
every  kind  of  antiquarian  learning,  especially  bibli- 
cal, was  highly  prized.  The  government  of  Hol- 
land and  Zealand  gave  the  author  the  copyright 
privilege.  Duke  August  of  Brunswick,  and  his  wife 
Elizabeth,  wished  to  possess  a  German  translation 

CH.    IV.  DAVID    DE    ,LARA.  115 

of  Leon's  description,  and  commissioned  Professor 
John  Saubert,  of  Helmstadt,  to  undertake  it.  While 
corresponding  with  the  author  so  as  to  ensure 
thoroughness,  he  was  anticipated  by  another  man 
who  brought  out  a  German  translation  at  Hanover. 
This  circumstance  caused  great  annoyance  to  Pro- 
fessor Saubert.  Templo,  as  Leon  and  his  posterity 
were  surnamed  from  his  work  in  connection  with 
the  Temple,  engaged  in  controversies  with  Chris- 
tian ecclesiastics  on  Judaism  and  Christianity,  and 
published  a  translation  of  the  Psalms  in  Spanish. 

In  this  cultivated  circle  of  Spinoza's  contempora- 
ries were  two  men  who  lived  alternately  at  Ham- 
burg and  Amsterdam,  David  Coen  de  Lara  and 
Dionysius  Musaphia,  both  distinguished  as  philo- 
logists, but  not  for  much  besides.  With  their  know- 
ledge of  Latin  and  Greek  they  explained  the  dialect 
of  the  Talmud,  and  corrected  errors  which  had  crept 
into  the  earlier  Talmudical  lexicons.  David  de 
Lara  (1610-1674)  was  also  a  preacher  and  writer  on 
morals  ;  but  his  efforts  in  that  direction  are  of  small 
value.  He  associated  too  much  with  the  Hamburg 
preacher.,  Esdras  Edzardus,  who  was  bent  on  the 
conversion  of  the  Jews.  The  latter  spread  the 
false  report  that  De  Lara  was  almost  a  Christian 
before  he  died.  Dionysius  (Benjamin)  Musaphia 
(born  about  1616,  died  at  Amsterdam,  1676),  a  phy- 
sician and  student  of  natural  science,  was  up  to  the 
date  of  the  monarch's  death  in  the  service  of  the 
Danish  king  Christian  IV.  He  was  also  a  philoso- 
pher, and  allowed  himself  to  question  various  things 
in  the  Talmud  and  the  Bible.  Nevertheless  he  held 
the  office  of  rabbi  at  Amsterdam  in  his  old  age. 

Much  more  important  than  the  whole  of  this  cir- 
cle was  Balthasar  Orobio  de  Castro  (1620-1687). 
He  also  sprang  from  Marrano  parents,  who  secretly 
continued  to  cling  to  Judaism,  in  that  they  abstained 
from  food  and  drink  on  the  Day  of  Atonement.  In 
this  meager  conception  of  Judaism,  Orobio  was 

Il6  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

brought  up.  Endowed  with  clear  intellect,  he 
studied  the  decayed  and  antiquated  philosophy  still 
taught  in  Spanish  academies,  and  became  professor 
of  metaphysics  in  the  University  of  Salamanca. 
This  fossilized  philosophy  appears  neither  to  have 
satisfied  him  nor  to  have  brought  him  sufficient 
means  of  subsistence,  for  he  applied  himself  in  riper 
years  to  the  study  of  medicine.  In  this  pursuit 
Orobio  was  more  successful  ;  he  gained  a  reputation 
at  Seville,  was  physician  to  the  duke  of  Medina- 
Celi,  and  to  a  family  in  high  favor  with  the  court, 
and  amassed  considerable  wealth.  He  was  a  happy 
husband  and  father,  when  the  Inquisition  cast  its 
baleful  glance  upon  him.  A  servant,  whom  he  had 
punished  for  theft,  had  informed  against  him. 
Orobio  was  seized,  accused  of  Judaism,  and  thrown 
into  a  narrow,  gloomy  dungeon,  where  he  had  not 
room  to  move,  and  where  he  spent  three  years 
(about  1655-1658). 

At  first  he  filled  up  his  time  with  philosophical 
subtleties,  as  pursued  at  the  Spanish  universities. 
He  undertook  to  defend  a  thesis,  acting  at  the  same 
time  in  imagination  as  the  opponent,  who  interposes 
objections,  and  as  the  judge,  who  sums  up  and  sifts 
the  arguments.  By  degrees  his  mind  grew  so  per- 
plexed that  he  often  asked  himself,  "Am  I  really 
Don  Balthasar  Orobio,  who  went  about  in  the  streets 
of  Seville,  and  lived  in  comfort  with  his  family?" 
His  past  seemed  a  dream,  and  he  believed  that  he 
had  been  born  in  prison,  and  must  die  there.  But 
the  tribunal  of  the  Inquisition  brought  a  change  into 
his  empty  dream-life.  He  was  ushered  into  a  dark 
vault,  lighted  only  by  a  dull  lamp.  He  could  hardly 
distinguish  the  judge,  the  secretary,  and  the  execu- 
tioner, who  were  about  to  deal  with  his  case.  Hav- 
ing been  again  admonished  to  confess  his  heresy, 
and  having  again  denied  it,  the  hangman  undressed 
him,  bound  him  with  cords,  which  were  fastened  to 
hooks  in  the  wall,  brought  his  body  into  a  swinging 


movement  between  the  ceiling  and  the  floor,  and 
drew  the  cords  so  tight,  that  the  blood  spurted  from 
his  nails.  His  feet,  moreover,  were  strongly  bound 
to  a  small  ladder,  the  steps  of  which  were  studded 
with  spikes.  Whilst  being  tortured,  he  was  fre- 
quently admonished  to  make  confession,  and  was 
threatened,  in  case  he  persisted  in  denial,  with  the 
infliction  of  still  more  horrible  pains,  for  which, 
though  they  caused  his  death,  he  would  have  to 
thank  his  own  obstinacy,  not  the  tribunal.  However, 
he  survived  the  torture,  was  taken  back  to  prison 
to  allow  his  wounds  to  heal,  then  condemned  to 
wear  the  garb  of  shame  (San  Benito),  and  was  finally 
banished  from  Spain.  He  betook  himself  to  Tou- 
louse, where  he  became  professor  of  medicine  in  the 
university.  Although  respected  in  his  new  position, 
Orobio  could  not  long  endure  the  hypocrisy.  He 
went  to  Amsterdam,  publicly  professed  the  Jewish 
religion,  and  assumed  the  name  of  Isaac  (about 
1666).  No  wonder  that  he  became  a  bitter  oppo- 
nent of  Christianity,  which  he  had  learnt  to  know 
thoroughly.  He  became  an  adherent  of  Judaism 
from  conviction,  proved  himself  a  courageous  and 
able  champion  of  the  religion  of  his  fathers,  and 
dealt  such  powerful  blows  to  Christianity  as  few 
before  him,  so  that  a  distinguished  Protestant  theo- 
logian (Van  Limborch)  felt  compelled  to  reply  to 
Orobio's  attacks. 

All  these  cultivated  youths  and  men,  the  soldier- 
poets  Enriquez  Gomez,  Nicholas  de  Oliver  y 
Fullana,  and  Joseph  Arias,  and  the  writers  Joseph 
Penso,  Thomas  de  Pinedo,  Jacob  Leon,  David  de 
Lara,  and  Dionysius  Musaphia,  knew  of  Spinoza's 
attacks  upon  Judaism,  and  undoubtedly  read  his 
"  Theologico-Political  Treatise."  Isaac  Orobio  as- 
sociated with  Spinoza.  Yet  the  blows  by  which 
the  latter  strove  to  shake  Judaism  did  not  cause 
the  former  to  waver  in  their  convictions.  This  is 
the  more  remarkable,  as  simultaneously,  from 

Il8  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

another  side,  Judaism  was  covered  with  shame,  or, 
what  comes  to  the  same  thing,  its  followers  every- 
where in  the  East  and  West,  with  few  exceptions, 
became  slaves  to  a  delusion  which  exposed  them  to 
the  ridicule  of  the  world,  and  enveloped  them  for 
the  first  time  in  the  darkness  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

Without  suspecting  it,  Spinoza  possessed  in  the 
East  an  ally,  diametrically  his  opposite,  who  labored 
to  disintegrate  Judaism,  and  succeeded  in  throwing 
the  whole  Jewish  race  into  a  turmoil,  which  long 
interfered  with  its  progress.  Sabbatai  Zevi  was  at 
once  Spinoza's  opposite  and  his  ally.  He  possessed 
many  more  admirers  than  the  philosopher  of  Amster- 
dam, became  for  a  space  the  idol  of  the  Jewish  race, 
and  has  secret  adherents  even  to  the  present  time. 
Sabbatai  Zevi  (born  Ab  9,  1626,  died  1676),  of 
Smyrna,  in  Asia  Minor,  was  of  Spanish  descent,  and 
became  the  originator  of  a  new  Messianic  frenzy, 
the  founder  of  a  new  sect.  He  owed  the  attach- 
ment which  he  inspired  even  as  a  youth,  not  to  his 
qualities  of  mind,  but  to  his  external  appearance  and 
attractive  manner.  He  was  tall,  well  formed,  had 
fine  dark  hair,  a  fine  beard,  and  a  pleasant  voice, 
which  won  hearts  by  speech  and  still  more  by  song. 
But  his  mind  was  befogged  by  reason  of  the  pre- 
dominance of  fancy ;  he  had  an  enthusiastic  tem- 
perament and  an  inclination  to  what  was  strange, 
especially  to  solitude.  In  boyhood  Sabbatai  Zevi 
avoided  the  company  and  games  of  playmates, 
sought  solitary  places,  and  what  usually  has  charms 
for  the  young  did  not  attract  him.  He  was  educated 
by  the  current  method.  In  early  youth  he  studied 
the  Talmud  in  the  school  of  the  veteran  Joseph 
Eskapha,  a  staunch  Talmudist  of  Smyrna,  but  did 
not  attain  to  great  proficiency.  The  more  was 
he  attracted  by  the  confused  jumble  of  the  Kab- 
bala.  Once  introduced  into  the  labyrinth  of  the 
Zohar,  he  felt  himself  at  home  therein,  guided  by 
Lurya's  interpretation.  Sabbatai  Zevi  shared  the 

CH.  IV.  SABBATAi'    ZEVI.  119 

prevailing  opinion  that  the  Kabbala  can  be  acquired 
only  by  means  of  asceticism.  He  mortified  his  body, 
and  bathed  very  frequently  in  the  sea,  day  and  night, 
winter  and  summer.  Perhaps  it  was  from  sea-bath- 
ing that  his  body  derived  the  peculiar  fragrance 
which  his  worshipers  strongly  maintained  that  it 
possessed.  In  early  manhood  he  presented  a  con- 
trast to  his  companions  because  he  felt  no  attraction 
to  the  female  sex.  According  to  custom  Sabbatai 
Zevi  married  early,  but  avoided  his  young,  good-look- 
ing wife  so  pertinaciously,  that  she  applied  for 
divorce,  which  he  willingly  granted  her.  The  same 
thing  happened  with  a  second  wife. 

This  aversion  to  marriage,  rare  in  the  warm 
climate  of  the  East,  his  assiduous  study  of  the 
Kabbala,  and  his  ascetic  life,  attracted  attention. 
Disciples  sought  him,  and  were  introduced  by  him 
to  the  Kabbala.  Twenty  years  old  he  was  the 
master  of  a  small  circle.  He  attached  disciples  to 
himself  partly  by  his  earnest  and  retiring  manner, 
which  precluded  familiarity,  partly  by  his  musical 
voice,  with  which  he  sang  in  Spanish  the  Kabbalistic 
verses  composed  by  Lurya  or  himself.  Another 
circumstance  must  be  added.  When  Sultan  Ibrahim 
ascended  the  throne,  a  violent  war  broke  out 
between  Turkey  and  Venice,  which  made  the  trade 
of  the  Levant  unsafe  in  the  capital.  Several  Euro- 
pean, that  is,  Dutch  and  English,  mercantile  houses 
in  consequence  transferred  their  offices  to  Smyrna. 
This  hitherto  insignificant  city  thereby  acquired 
importance  as  a  mart.  The  Jews  of  Smyrna,  who 
had  been  poor,  profited  by  this  commercial  develop- 
ment, and  amassed  great  riches,  first  as  agents  of 
large  houses,  afterwards  as  independent  firms. 
Mordecai  Zevi,  Sabbatai's  father,  from  the  Morea, 
originally  poor,  became  the  Smyrna  agent  of  an 
English  house,  executed  its  commissions  with  strict 
honesty,  enjoyed  the  confidence  of  the  principals, 
and  became  a  wealthy  man.  His  increasing  pros- 

I2O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

perity  was  attributed  by  the  blind  father  to  the 
merit  of  his  Kabbala-loving  son,  to  whom  he  paid 
such  great  reverence,  that  it  was  communicated  to 
strangers.  Sabbatai  was  regarded  as  a  young  saint. 
The  more  discreet,  on  account  of  his  folly,  declared 
him  to  be  mad.  In  the  house  of  his  English  prin- 
cipal, Mordecai  Zevi  often  heard  the  approach  of 
the  millennium  discussed,  either  he  himself  or  some 
of  his  people  being  enthusiastic  believers  in  the 
apocalypse  of  the  Fifth  Monarchy.  The  year  1666 
was  designated  by  these  enthusiasts  as  the  Messi- 
anic year,  which  was  to  bring  renewed  splendor  to 
the  Jews  and  see  their  return  to  Jerusalem.  The 
expectations  heard  in  the  English  counting  house 
were  communicated  by  Mordecai  Zevi  to  the  mem- 
bers of  his  family,  none  of  whom  listened  more  atten- 
tively than  Sabbatai,  already  entangled  in  the  maze 
of  the  Luryan  Kabbala,  and  inclined  to  mistake 
enthusiastic  hopes  for  prosaic  fact.  What  if  he 
himself  were  called  upon  to  usher  in  this  time  of 
redemption  ?  Had  he  not,  at  an  earlier  age  than 
any  one  before,  penetrated  to  the  heart  of  the  Kab- 
bala ?  And  who  could  be  more  worthy  of  this  call 
than  one  deeply  immersed  in  its  mysteries  ? 

The  central  point  of  the  later  Kabbala  was  most 
intense  expectation  of  the  Messiah  ;  Lurya,  Vital, 
and  their  disciples  and  followers  proclaimed  anew, 
"  The  kingdom  of  heaven  is  at  hand."  A  peculiar 
redemption  was  to  precede  and  accompany  it — the 
redemption  of  the  scattered  elements  of  the  original 
soul  (Nizuzoth)  from  the  fetters  of  original  evil,  the 
demon  nature  (Kelifoth),  which,  taking  a  hold  on 
men  through  the  fall  of  the  angels  or  divine 
elements,  held  them  in  captivity,  impeded  their 
upward  flight,  and  necessitated  the  perpetual  trans- 
migration of  souls  from  body  to  body.  As  soon  as 
the  evil  spirit  was  either  consumed,  annihilated,  ren- 
dered powerless,  or  at  least  existed  by  itself  with- 
out admixture  of  the  divine,  then  the  Kabbalistic 


order  (Olam  ha-Tikkun)  would  prevail,  streams  of 
mercy  would  pour  forth  without  let  or  hindrance 
upon  the  lower  world  through  the  channels  of  the 
Sefiroth,  and  fructify  and  miraculously  quicken  it. 
This  work  of  redemption  can  be  accomplished  by 
every  truly  pious  man  (Zaddik),  who  having  an  en- 
lightened soul,  and  being  initiated  into  the  Kabbala, 
stands  in  close  union  with  the  world  of  spirits,  com- 
prehends the  connection  between  the  upper  and 
lower  world,  and  fulfills  all  religious  exercises 
(Kewanoth)  with  concentrated  devotion  and  with 
due  regard  to  their  influence  upon  the  higher  pow- 
ers. Still  more  effectually  the  Messiah,  the  son  of 
David,  will  accomplish  the  annihilation  of  demoniacal 
powers  and  the  restoration  of  lost  souls,  or  rather 
the  collection  of  the  scattered  elements  of  the  uni- 
versal soul  of  Adam.  For  to  the  Messiah,  in  whom 
dwells  a  pure,  immaculate  soul,  are  unfolded  the 
mysterious  depths  of  the  higher  worlds,  essences, 
and  divine  creation,  even  the  Divine  Being  Himself. 
The  Messiah  of  the  seed  of  David  would,  to  a  cer- 
tain extent,  be  the  original  man  (Adam  Kadmon) 
incarnate,  part  of  the  Godhead. 

This  Luryan  mysticism  dazzled  the  bewildered 
brain  of  the  Smyrna  youth,  and  produced  such  con- 
fusion and  giddiness,  that  he.  thought  he  could  easily 
usher  in  this  spiritual  redemption,  which  would  be 
immediately  followed  by  that  of  the  body.  In  what 
manner  this  haughty  wish  to  play  the  part  of  a  Mes- 
siah germinates  and  breaks  forth  in  enthusiastic 
minds,  is  an  impenetrable  riddle.  Sabbatai  Zevi 
was  not  the  first  to  believe  himself  able  to  reverse 
the  whole  order  of  the  world,  by  mystical  hocus- 
pocus,  and  partly  to  succeed  in  the  endeavor.  Cer- 
tain it  is  that  the  extravagant  notions  entertained 
by  Jews  and  Christians  with  regard  to  the  near  ap- 
proach of  the  time  of  grace  worked  upon  Sabbatai's 
weak  brain.  That  book  of  falsehoods,  the  Zohar, 
declared  that  in  the  year  of  the  world  5408  (1648) 

122  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.    IV. 

the  era  of  redemption  would  dawn,  and  precisely  in 
that  year  Sabbatai  revealed  himself  to  his  train  of 
youthful  companions  as  the  Messianic  redeemer. 
It  happened  in  an  apparently  insignificant  manner, 
but  the  mode  of  revelation  was  of  great  import  to 
the  initiated.  Sabbatai  Zevi  uttered  the  full  four- 
lettered  name  of  God  in  Hebrew  (Jhwh,  the  Tetra- 
grammaton)  without  hesitation,  although  this  was 
strictly  prohibited  in  the  Talmud  and  by  the  usage 
of  ages.  The  Kabbalists  attached  all  sorts  of  mys- 
tical importance  to  this  prohibition.  During  the 
dispersion  of  Israel,  the  perfection  of  God  Himself 
was  to  a  certain  extent  destroyed,  on  account  of  the 
sinfulness  of  men  and  the  degradation  of  the  Jewish 
people,  since  the  Deity  could  not  carry  out  His 
moral  plan.  The  higher  and  lower  worlds  were 
divided  from  each  other  by  a  deep  gulf;  the  four 
letters  of  God's  name  were  parted  asunder.  With 
the  Messianic  period  of  redemption  the  moral  order 
of  the  world,  as  God  had  laid  it  down  in  the  plan  of 
the  universe,  and  the  perfection  and  unity  of  God 
would  be  restored.  When  Sabbatai  Zevi  permitted 
himself  to  pronounce  the  name  of  God  in  full,  he 
thereby  proclaimed  that  the  time  of  grace  had  begun 
with  him. 

However,  despite  his  pious,  mystical  life,  he  had 
too  little  authority  at  the  age  of  two  and  twenty  for 
the  rabbis  to  allow  an  infraction  of  the  existing 
order  of  things,  which  might  lead  to  further  inroads. 
When  Zevi's  pretensions  became  known  some  years 
later,  the  college  of  rabbis,  at  their  head  his  teacher 
Joseph  Eskapha,  laid  him  and  his  followers  under  a 
ban.  Many  bickerings  ensued  in  the  community, 
the  particulars  of  which  are  not  known.  Finally  he 
and  his  disciples  were  banished  from  Smyrna  (about 
1651).  The  Messianic  delusion  appeared  to  have 
been  extinguished,  but  it  smouldered  on,  and  broke 
out  again,  about  fifteen  years  later,  in  a  bright,  con- 
suming flame.  This  persecution,  far  from  terrifying 


Sabbatai  Zevi,  gave  him  a  sense  of  his  dignity.  The 
idea  of  a  suffering  Messiah  had  been  transplanted 
from  Christianity  to  Judaism ;  it  was  the  accepted 
view  that  humiliation  was  the  precursor  of  the  Mes- 
siah's exaltation  and  glorification.  Sabbatai  believed 
in  himself,  and  his  disciples,  amongst  them  Moses 
Pinheiro,  a  man  of  mature  age,  highly  esteemed  for 
scientific  acquirements,  shared  the  belief  with 
tenacity.  If  the  Messiah  had  been  obliged  to  beg 
his  way  through  the  world,  his  illusion  would  not  have 
long  held  its  ground.  But  Sabbatai  was  richly  pro- 
vided with  means,  he  could  maintain  his  independ- 
ence and  his  presumed  dignity,  and  win  adherents  to 
his  cause.  At  first,  however,  he  kept  himself  in 
concealment,  did  not  say  much  about  his  Messiah- 
ship,  and  thereby  escaped  ridicule.  Whither  he  be- 
took himself  after  his  banishment  from  his  native 
city  is  not  quite  certain  ;  probably  to  the  Turkish 
capital,  where  dwelt  the  largest  Jewish  community, 
in  which  were  so  many  clean  and  unclean  elements, 
that  everyone  could  find  companions  for  plans  and 
adventures.  Here  he  made  the  acquaintance  of  a 
preacher,  Abraham  Yachini,  who  confirmed  him  in 
his  delusion.  Yachini  stood  in  high  repute  on  ac- 
count of  his  talent  as  a  preacher.  He  was  a  needy 
and  artful  fellow,  and  made  neat  transcriptions  fora 
Dutch  Christian,  who  dabbled  in  Oriental  literature. 
From  selfish  motives  or  delight  in  mystification,  and 
to  confirm  Sabbatai  Zevi  in  his  delusion,  Yachini 
palmed  off  upon  him  an  apocryphal  manuscript  in 
archaic  characters,  which  he  alleged  bore  ancient 
testimony  to  Sabbatai's  Messiahship. 

"  I,  Abraham,  was  shut  up  for  forty  years  in  a  cave,  and  wondered 
that  the  time  of  miracles  did  not  make  its  appearance.  Then  a  voice 
replied  to  me,  'A  son  shall  be  born  in  the  year  of  the  world  5386 
(1626),  and  be  called  Sabbatai.  He  shall  quell  the  great  dragon  :  he 
is  the  true  Messiah,  and  shall  wage  war  without  weapons.' ' 

This  document,  which  the  young  fanatic  himself 
appears  to  have  taken   for    a    genuine    revelation, 

124  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

became  later  on  the  source  of  many  mystifications 
and  impostures.  However,  it  appeared  inadvisable 
to  the  dupe  and  the  deceiver  that  he  should  appear 
in  Constantinople.  Salonica,  which  had  always  paid 
homage  to  mysticism,  seemed  a  more  suitable  field 
for  Kabbalistic  extravagances.  Here,  therefore, 
Sabbata'i  resided  for  some  time,  gained  adherents, 
and  came  forward  with  greater  boldness.  Here  he 
enacted  one  of  his  favorite  scenes,  by  which  he  after- 
wards worked  upon  the  imagination  of  the  Kab- 
balists.  He  prepared  a  solemn  festival,  invited^  his 
friends,  sent  for  the  sacred  book  (Torah),  and  inti- 
mated to  those  present,  that  he  was  about  to  cele- 
brate his  mystical  marriage  with  it.  In  the  language 
of  the  Kabbala  this  meant  that  the  Torah,  the 
daughter  of  heaven,  was  to  be  united  indissolubly 
with  the  Messiah,  the  son  of  heaven,  or  En-Sof. 
This  scene  displeased  the  discreet  rabbis  of  Salonica, 
and  they  decreed  his  banishment.  Thence  he  be- 
took himself  to  the  Morea,  probably  to  relatives  and 
friends  of  his  father,  and  resided  for  some  time  at 
Athens,  where  at  that  time  there  was  a  Jewish  com- 
munity. When  the  Jews  of  this  region  heard  of  the 
sentence  pronounced  upon  him,  they  gave  him  no 
encouragement.  This  opposition,  far  from  dis- 
couraging him,  only  served  to  make  him  bolder  ;  he 
probably  regarded  his  sufferings  as  necessary  for 
the  glorification  of  the  Messiah. 

At  last,  after  long  wandering,  a  prospect  of  real- 
izing his  dream  presented  itself  at  Cairo.  In  the 
Egyptian  capital  there  was  a  Jewish  mint-master 
and  tax-farmer,  with  the  title  of  Saraph-Bashi,  similar 
to  the  Alabarchs  at  Alexandria  in  earlier  ages.  At 
that  time  (after  1656)  the  office  was  held  by  Raphael 
Joseph  Chelebi,  of  Aleppo,  a  man  of  great  wealth 
and  open-handed  benevolence,  but  of  unspeakable 
credulity,  and  ineradicable  propensity  to  mysticism 
and  asceticism.  Fifty  learned  Talmudists  and  Kab- 
balists  were  supported  by  him,  and  dined  at  his 

CH.    IV.  RAPHAEL    JOSEPH     CHELEBI.  125 

table.  Everyone  who  sought  his  compassion  found 
help  and  relief  in  his  need.  While  riding  in  the 
royal  chariot,  and  appearing  in  splendid  robes,  he 
wore  sackcloth  underneath,  fasted  and  bathed  much, 
and  frequently  at  night  scourged  himself.  Samuel 
Vital,  a  son  of  Chayim  Calabrese,  superintended  his 
constant  penances  according  to  the  Kabbalistic  pre- 
cepts of  Lurya  (Tikkun  Lurya).  These  were  in- 
tended, as  has  been  stated,  to  hasten  the  coming  of 
the  Messiah.  To  be  in  Cairo  and  not  to  make 
Raphael  Joseph's  acquaintance  was  an  inconceivable 
course  for  a  Kabbalist.  Sabbatai  Zevi  thus  came 
into  his  circle,  and  won  his  confidence  the  sooner, 
as,  owing  to  his  independent  position,  he  did  not 
desire  anything  of  him.  He  appears  to  have  par- 
tially revealed  his  Messianic  plans  to  Raphael.  He 
had  grown  older,  maturer,  and  wiser,  and  knew  how 
to  make  men  amenable  to  his  wishes.  The  Apo- 
calyptic year,  1666,  was  drawing  near,  and  it  was 
important  to  use  the  auspicious  moment. 

He  betook  himself  to  Jerusalem,  perhaps  under 
the  delusion  that  in  the  Holy  Land  a  miracle  would 
take  place  to  confirm  his  greatness.  The  com- 
munity at  Jerusalem  was  at  that  time  in  every  way 
poor  and  wretched.  Besides  being  ground  down 
by  the  oppressions  and  extortions  of  Turkish  offi- 
cials, it  suffered  because  the  supplies  from  Europe 
were  exhausted  on  account  of  the  constant  massacres 
of  the  Jews  in  Poland.  The  consequence  was  that 
the  best  men  emigrated,  leaving  the  government  of 
the  community  to  thorough-going  Kabbalists,  de- 
voted adherents  of  Lurya  and  Vital,  or  to  a  licen- 
tious set,  who  followed  the  impulses  of  bare-faced 
selfishness.  There  were  at  that  time  very  few  men 
of  repute  and  authority  in  Jerusalem.  A  Marrano 
physician  named  Jacob  Zemach  appears  to  have 
stood  at  their  head.  He  had  leapt,  so  to  speak,  in 
one  bound  from  a  Portuguese  church  into  the  nest 
of  Kabbalists  at  Safet,  and  there,  as  later  at  Jeru- 

126  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

salem,  had  become  an  unconscious  tool  for  the 
mystifications  practiced  by  Vital.  Abraham  Amigo, 
a  Talmudist  of  the  second  or  third  rank,  had  similar 
aims.  A  man  of  some  importance,  to  be  sure,  was 
Jacob  Chages  (1620-1674),  who  had  migrated  from 
Italy  to  Jerusalem,  and  who  wrote  Spanish  well. 
Chages,  however,  had  no  official  position,  but  lived 
the  life  of  a  recluse  in  an  academy,  which  two  bro- 
thers named  Vega,  of  Leghorn,  had  founded  for  him. 
The  thoughtless  credulity  of  the  people  of  Jerusalem 
of  that  time  is  instanced  by  the  gross  deception 
practiced  upon  them  by  Baruch  Gad,  one  of  their 
alms-collecting  emissaries,  which  they,  the  learned 
and  the  unlearned,  not  only  credited,  but  swore  to 
as  true.  Baruch  Gad  had  gone  on  a  begging  jour- 
ney to  Persia,  where  he  pretended  that  he  had 
experienced  many  adventures,  and  had  been  saved 
by  a  Jew  of  the  tribe  of  Naphtali,  who  had  given  him 
a  Kabbalistic  letter  from  one  of  the  "  Sons  of  Moses" 
at  the  miraculous  river  Sabbation.  It  contained 
much  about  the  riches,  splendor,  and  daily  miracles 
of  the  Sons  of  Moses,  and  said  that  they  were 
momentarily  awaiting  the  commencement  of  the 
Messianic  epoch  as  a  signal  for  coming  forth.  This 
story,  certified  by  a  circular,  was  brought  by  Baruch 
Gad  to  Jerusalem,  where  it  found  unquestioning  cre- 
dence. When  the  community  of  Jerusalem  had 
fallen  into  great  want  in  consequence  of  the  Cossack 
massacre,  ten  so-called  rabbis,  Jacob  Zemach  at 
their  head,  sent  to  Reggio  to  their  envoy  Nathan 
Spira,  of  Jerusalem,  a  copy  of  this  document  from 
the  Sons  of  Moses,  which  was  kept  in  careful  cus- 
tody. It  was  to  serve  as  a  bait  to  draw  more 
abundant  alms. 

The  miracle  which  Sabbata'i  Zevi  was  expecting 
for  jiimself  in  the  Holy  City  was  present  in  the  cre- 
dulity and  mania  for  miracles  on  the  part  of  the 
people  of  Jerusalem,  who  were  inclined,  like  the 
lowest  savages,  to  accept  any  absurd  message  as  a 


divine  revelation,  if  only  it  was  brought  before  them 
in  the  right  manner.  At  first  the  Smyrna  enthu- 
siast kept  himself  quiet,  and  gave  no  offense.  He 
lived  according  to  the  precepts  of  the  Kabbala, 
imposed  the  severest  mortifications  on  himself,  and 
often  stayed  by  the  graves  of  pious  men  in  order  to 
draw  down  their  spirits.  Thereby,  aided  by  his  pleas- 
ing, attractive,  and  reverential  behavior  and  taciturn 
manner,  he  gradually  gathered  round  him  a  circle  of 
adherents  who  had  blind  faith  in  him.  One  of  his 
devoted  followers  related  with  credulous  simplicity, 
that  Sabbatai  Zevi  shed  floods  of  tears  in  prayer. 
He  sang  Psalms  the  whole  night  with  his  melodious 
voice,  while  pacing  the  room  now  with  short,  now 
with  long  strides.  His  whole  conduct  was  out  of 
the  ordinary  groove.  He  was  also  wont  to  sing 
coarse  love  songs  in  Spanish,  with  a  mystical  mean- 
ing, about  the  emperor's  fair  daughter  Melisselda, 
with  her  coral  lips  and  milk-white  skin,  as  she  rose 
out  of  the  bath.  Sabbatai  used  another  means  to 
win  hearts.  When  he  showed  himself  in  the  streets 
he  distributed  sweet-meats  of  all  sorts  to  the  chil- 
dren, who  in  consequence  ran  after  him,  and  he 
thus  gained  the  favor  of  their  mothers. 

An  incident  brought  his  eccentric  ideas  nearer 
their  realization.  The  community  at  Jerusalem  was 
sentenced  by  one  of  the  pachas  or  some  minor  offi- 
cial to  one  of  those  oppressive  exactions  which  fre- 
quently carried  torture  or  death  in  their  train.  The 
impoverished  members  rested  their  hopes  solely 
on  Raphael  Joseph  Chelebi  at  Cairo,  known  to  have 
the  means  and  inclination  to  succor  his  afflicted 
brethren,  especially  the  saints  of  Jerusalem.  A 
messenger  was  to  be  sent  to  him,  and  Sabbatai  Zevi 
was  universally  regarded  as  the  most  fitting,  partic- 
ularly as  he  was  a  favorite  with  the  Saraph-Bashi. 
He  undertook  this  task  willingly,  because  he  hoped 
to  get  the  opportunity  to  play  the  part  of  saviour  of 
the  Holy  City.  His  worshipers  date  from  this  jour- 

128  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

ney  to  Egypt  the  beginning  of  his  miraculous  power, 
and  assert  that  he  accomplished  many  miracles  at 
sea.  Sabbatai  however  traveled  not  by  water,  but 
by  land,  by  way  of  Hebron  and  Gaza.,  probably  join- 
ing a  caravan  through  the  desert.  He  excited  so 
much  attention  that  all  the  Jews  of  Hebron,  in  order 
to  observe  him,  refrained  from  sleep  during  the 
night  of  his  stay.  Arrived  at  Cairo,  he  immediately 
received  from  Chelebi  the  sum  required  for  the 
ransom  of  the  community  at  Jerusalem,  and,  besides, 
an  extraordinarily  favorable  opportunity  presented 
itself  to  confirm  his  Messianic  dreams. 

During  the  massacre  of  the  Jews  in  Poland  by 
Chmielnicki,  a  Jewish  orphan  girl  of  about  six  was 
found  by  Christians,  and  put  into  a  nunnery.  Her 
parents  were  dead,  a  brother  had  been  driven  to 
Amsterdam,  the  whole  community  broken  up  and 
put  to  flight,  and  no  one  troubled  himself  about  the 
forsaken  child,  so  that  the  nuns  of  the  convent  re- 
garded the  foundling  as  a  soul  brought  to  them  and 
gave  her  a  Christian  conventual  education.  The 
impressions  received  in  the  house  of  her  parents 
were  so  lively,  that  Christianity  found  no  entrance 
into  her  heart ;  she  remained  faithful  to  Judaism. 
Nevertheless,  her  soul  was  nourished  by  fantastic 
dreams  induced  by  her  surroundings,  and  her 
thoughts  took  an  eccentric  direction.  She  devel- 
oped into  a  lovely  girl,  and  longed  to  escape  from  the 
cloister.  One  day  she  was  found  by  Jews,  who  had 
again  settled  in  the  place,  in  the  Jewish  cemetery. 
Astonished  at  finding  a  beautiful  girl  of  sixteen 
lightly  clad  in  such  a  position,  they  questioned  her, 
and  received  answer  that  she  was  of  Jewish  extrac- 
tion, and  had  been  brought  up  in  a  convent.  The 
night  before,  she  said,  she  had  been  bodily  seized 
by  her  father's  ghost,  and  carried  out  of  bed  to  the 
cemetery.  In  support  of  her  statement,  she  showed 
the  women  nail-marks  on  her  body,  which  were 
said  to  come  from  her  father's  hands.  She  ap- 

CH.   IV.  SABBATAl'S    WIFE.  1 29 

pears  to  have  learnt  in  the  convent  the  art  of  pro- 
ducing scars  on  her  body.  The  Jews  thought  it 
dangerous  to  keep  a  fugitive  from  the  convent  in 
their  midst,  and  sent  her  to  Amsterdam.  There 
she  found  her  brother.  Eccentric  by  nature  and 
excited  by  the  change  in  her  fortunes,  she  continu- 
ally repeated  the  words,  that  she  was  destined  to  be 
the  wife  of  the  Messiah,  who  was  soon  to  appear. 
After  she  had  lived  some  years  in  Amsterdam  under 
the  name  of  Sarah,  she  came — it  is  not  known  for 
what  purpose — by  way  of  Frankfort-on-the-Main  to 
Leghorn.  There,  as  credible  witnesses  aver,  she 
put  her  charms  to  immoral  use,  yet  continued  to 
maintain  that  she  was  dedicated  to  the  Messiah, 
and  could  contract  no  other  marriage.  The  strange 
history  of  this  Polish  girl  circulated  amongst  the 
Jews,  and  penetrated  even  to  Cairo.  Sabbatai  Zevi, 
who  heard  of  it,  gave  out  that  a  Polish-Jewish  maiden 
had  been  promised  to  him  in  a  dream  as  his  spirit- 
ual wife.  He  sent  a  messenger  to  Leghorn,  and 
had  Sarah  brought  to  Cairo. 

By  her  fantastical,  free,  self-confident  behavior 
and  by  her  beauty,  Sarah  made  a  peculiar  impres- 
sion upon  Sabbatai  and  his  companions.  He  him- 
self was  firmly  convinced  of  his  Messiahship.  To 
Sabbatai  and  his  friends  the  immoral  life  of  this 
Polish  adventuress  was  not  unknown.  This  also 
was  said  to  be  a  Messianic  dispensation  ;  he  had 
been  directed,  like  the  prophet  Hosea,  to  marry  an 
unchaste  wife.  No  one  was  so  happy  as  Raphael 
Joseph  Chelebi,  because  at  his  house  the  Messiah 
met  his  bride,  and  was  married.  He  placed  his 
wealth  at  the  disposal  of  Sabbatai  Zevi,  and  became 
his  most  influential  follower.  The  warm  adhesion 
of  so  dignified,  respected,  and  powerful  a  man 
brought  many  believers  to  Sabbatai.  It  was  rightly 
said,  that  he  had  come  to  Egypt  as  a  messenger, 
and  returned  as  the  Messiah.  For,  from  this  second 
residence  at  Cairo  dates  his  public  career.  Sarah, 

130  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

also,  the  Messiah's  fair  bride,  brought  him  many  dis- 
ciples. Through  her  a  romantic,  licentious  element 
entered  into  the  fantastic  career  of  the  Smyrna 
Messiah.  Her  beauty  and  free  manner  of  life  at- 
tracted youths  and  men  who  had  no  sympathy  with 
the  mystical  movement.  With  a  larger  following 
than  when  he  started,  Sabbatai  returned  to  Pales- 
tine, bringing  two  talismans  of  more  effective  power 
than  Kabbalistic  means — Sarah's  influence  and 
Chelebi's  money.  At  Gaza  he  found  a  third  con- 
federate, who  helped  to  smooth  his  path. 

At  Jerusalem  there  lived  a  man  named  Elisha 
Levi,  who  had  migrated  thither  from  Germany.  The 
Jews  of  the  Holy  City  dispatched  him  to  all  parts 
of  the  world  with  begging  letters.  Whilst  he  was 
roaming  through  northern  Africa,  Amsterdam,  Ham- 
burg, and  Poland,  his  son  Nathan  Benjamin  Levi 
(1644—1680)  was  left  to  himself,  or  the  perverse  ed- 
ucation of  that  time.  He  developed,  in  the  school 
of  Jacob  Chages,  into  a  youth  with  superficial  knowl- 
edge of  the  Talmud,  acquired  Kabbalistic  scraps, 
and  obtained  facility  in  the  high-sounding,  but  hol- 
low, nonsensical  Rabbinical  style  of  the  period, 
which  concealed  poverty  of  thought  beneath  ver- 
biage. The  pen  was  his  faithful  instrument,  and 
replaced  the  gift  of  speech,  in  which  he  had  little 
facility.  This  youth  was  suddenly  raised  from  press- 
ing poverty  to  opulence.  A  rich  Portuguese,  Sam- 
uel Lisbona,  who  had  moved  from  Damascus  to 
Gaza,  asked  Jacob  Chages  to  recommend  a  husband 
for  his  beautiful,  but  one-eyed  daughter,  and  he 
suggested  his  disciple  Nathan  Benjamin.  Thus  he 
became  connected  with  a  rich  house,  and  in  conse- 
quence of  his  change  of  fortune,  lost  all  stability,  if 
he  had  had  any.  When  Sabbatai  Zevi,  with  a  large 
train  of  followers,  came  to  Gaza  on  his  way  back 
from  Cairo,  posing  as  the  Messiah,  and  accepted  as 
such  by  the  crowds  gathering  about  him,  Nathan 
Ghazati  (i.e.,  of  Gaza)  entered  into  close  relationship 


with  him.  In  what  way  their  mutual  acquaintance 
and  attachment  arose  is  not  explained.  Sabbatai's 
disciples  declared  that  Nathan  had  dug  up  a  part 
of  the  ancient  writing,  wherein  Zevi's  Messiahship 
was  testified.  It  is  probably  nearer  the  truth,  that 
Sabbatai,  to  convince  Ghazati  of  his  mission,  palmed 
off  on  him  the  spurious  document  received  from 
Abraham  Yachini.  At  any  rate  Nathan  became  his 
most  zealous  adherent,  whether  from  conviction  or 
from  a  desire  to  play  a  prominent  part,  can  no 
longer  be  discerned  in  this  story,  in  which  simple 
faith,  self-deception,  and  willful  imposture,  border 
so  close  on  one  another. 

After  Nathan  Ghazati  and  Sabbatai  had  become 
acquainted,  the  former  a  youth  of  twenty,  the  latter 
a  man  of  forty,  prophetic  revelations  followed  close 
upon  one  another.  Ghazati  professed  to  be  the 
risen  Elijah,  who  was  to  pave  the  way  for  the 
Messiah.  He  gave  out  that  he  had  received  a 
call  on  a  certain  day  (probably  the  eve  of  the  Pen- 
tecost, 1665),  that  in  a  year  and  a  few  months  the 
Messiah  would  show  himself  in  his  glory,  would 
take  the  sultan  captive  without  arms,  only  with 
music,  and  establish  the  dominion  of  Israel  over  all 
the  nations  of  the  earth.  The  Messianic  age  was  to 
begin  in  the  year  1666.  This  revelation  was  pro- 
claimed everywhere  in  writing  by  the  pretended 
prophet  of  Gaza.,  with  the  addition  of  wild  fantasies 
and  suggestive  details.  He  wrote  to  Raphael 
Joseph  acknowledging  the  receipt  of  the  moneys 
sent  by  him,  and  begging  him  not  to  lose  faith  in 
Sabbatai ;  the  latter  would  certainly  in  a  year  and 
some  months  make  the  sultan  his  subject  and  lead 
him  about  as  a  captive.  The  dominion  would  be 
entrusted  to  Nathan,  until  he  should  conquer  the 
other  nations  without  bloodshed,  warring  only 
against  Germany,  the  enemy  of  the  Jews.  Then 
the  Messiah  would  betake  himself  to  the  banks  of 
the  river  Sabbation,  and  there  espouse  the  daughter 

I32  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

of  the  great  prophet,  Moses,  who  at  the  age  of  thir- 
teen would  be  exalted  as  queen,  with  Sarah  as  her 
slave.  Finally,  he  would  lead  back  the  ten  tribes  to 
the  Holy  Land,  riding  upon  a  lion  with  a  seven- 
headed  dragon  in  its  jaws.  The  more  exaggerated 
and  absurd  Nathan's  prophetic  vaporings  were,  the 
more  credence  did  they  find.  A  veritable  fit  of  in- 
toxication took  possession  of  nearly  all  the  Jews  of 
Jerusalem  and  the  neighboring  communities.  With 
a  prophet,  formerly  a  shy  youth,  proclaiming  so 
great  a  message,  and  a  Messiah,  more  profoundly 
versed  in  the  Kabbala  than  Chayim  Vital,  who  could 
venture  to  doubt  the  approach  of  the  time  of  grace  ? 
Those  who  shook  their  heads  at  this  rising  impos- 
ture were  laughed  to  scorn  by  the  Sabbatians. 

The  rabbinical  leaders  of  the  Jerusalem  com- 
munity were  unfavorably  struck  by  this  Messianic 
movement,  and  sought  to  stifle  it  at  its  birth.  It 
was  sufficient  to  prejudice  them  against  Sabbatai 
that  he  stood  in  the  foreground,  and  put  them  in  the 
shade.  He  is  said  to  have  distributed  the  money 
from  Egypt  according  to  his  own  discretion,  and  in 
the  division  to  have  unduly  favored  his  own  follow- 
ers. Jacob  Chages  and  his  college  threatened  him 
with  the  heaviest  excommunication  if  he  should  per- 
sist in  his  course.  Sabbatai  Zevi  appears  to  have 
cared  little  for  this,  especially  as  a  ban  could  have 
no  effect  if  the  community  was  on  his  side.  Even 
Moses  Galante,  the  son-in-law  of  Jacob  Chages,  es- 
teemed as  an  authority  in  the  Holy  Land,  regarded 
him  with  respect,  although,  as  he  afterwards  de- 
clared, he  did  not  believe  in  him  unconditionally. 
Sabbatai  Zevi  saw  clearly  that  Jerusalem  was  not 
the  right  place  for  his  plans,  as  the  rabbis  would 
place  obstacles  in  his  way.  Nathan  Ghazati  there- 
upon proclaimed  in  an  ecstasy  that  Jerusalem  had 
lost  its  importance  as  the  sacred  city,  and  that  Gaza 
had  taken  its  place.  At  Smyrna,  his  native  city — 
an  important  gathering-place  for  Europeans  and 

CH.  IV.  SAMUEL    PRIMO.  133 

Asiatics — Sabbatai  thought  he  could  obtain  greater 
success.  His  rich  brothers  prepared  a  good  recep- 
tion for  him  by  the  distribution  of  money  amongst 
the  poor  and  needy,  and  Nathan's  extravagant  pro- 
phetic letters  had  kindled  the  imagination  of  the 
people.  But  before  he  left  Jerusalem,  Sabbatai  took 
care  to  dispatch  active  missionaries  of  a  fanatical 
and  fraudulent  character,  to  predict  his  Messianic 
appearance,  excite  men's  minds,  and  fill  them  with 
his  name.  Sabbatai  Raphael,  a  beggar  and  im- 
postor from  the  Morea,  enlarged  in  mountebank 
fashion  on  the  Messiah's  greatness  ;  and  a  German 
Kabbalist,  Matathias  Bloch,  did  the  same  in  blind 

Thus  it  came  to  pass  that  when  Sabbatai  Zevileft 
Jerusalem — of  his  own  accord,  as  he  pretended, 
banished,  as  others  said — he  was  at  once  received 
in  triumph  in  the  large  Asiatic  community  of  Aleppo. 
Still  greater  was  the  homage  paid  him  in  his  native 
city  (autumn  1665).  The  ban  pronounced  against 
him  was  not  remembered.  He  was  accompanied 
by  a  man  of  Jerusalem,  Samuel  Primo,  who  became 
his  private  secretary,  and  one  of  his  most  zealous 
recruiting  agents.  Samuel  Primo  understood  the 
art  of  investing  trifles  with  an  air  of  official  serious- 
ness and  by  a  flowery  style  to  give  world-wide 
importance  to  the  Messianic  imposture.  He 
alone  remained  sober  in  the  midst  of  the  ever- 
increasing  fanaticism,  and  gave  aim  and  direction  to 
the  enthusiasts.  Primo  appears  to  have  heralded 
Sabbatai's  fame  from  conviction  ;  he  had  a  secret 
plan  to  be  accomplished  through  the  Messiah.  He 
appears  to  have  made  use  of  Sabbatai  more  than  to 
have  been  employed  by  him.  Sabbatai  had  tact 
-enough  not  to  announce  himself  at  once  at  Smyrna 
as  the  Messiah;  he  commanded  the  believing  mul- 
titude not  to  speak  of  it  until  the  proper  time.  But 
this  reserve,  combined  with  other  circumstances — 
the  ranting  letters  of  Nathan,  the  arrival  of  some 

134  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

men  of  Jerusalem  who  brought  him  the  homage  of 
the  Holy  City  (though  without  being  commissioned 
to  do  so),  the  severe  mortifications  which  the  people 
inflicted  on  themselves,  to  atone  for  their  sins  and 
become  worthy  of  the  coming  of  the  Messiah — all 
this  worked  upon  the  minds  of  the  multitude,  and 
they  could  scarcely  wait  for  the  day  of  his  revelation. 
He  had  the  Kabbalists  on  his  side  through  his  mys- 
tical utterances.  At  length  Sabbatai  Zevi  declared 
himself  publicly  in  the  synagogue,  with  blowing  of 
horns,  as  the  expected  Messiah  (New  Year,  Sep- 
tember, or  October,  1665),  and  the  multitude  shouted 
to  him,  "  Long  live  our  King,  our  Messiah  ! ' 

The  proverb  that  a  prophet  is  least  honored  in 
his  own  country  was  for  once  belied.  The  madness 
of  the  Jews  of  Smyrna  knew  no  bounds.  Every 
sign  of  honor  and  enthusiastic  love  was  shown  him. 
It  was  not  joy,  but  delirium  to  feel  that  the  long- 
expected  Messiah  had  at  last  appeared,  and  in  their 
own  community.  The  delirium  seized  great  and 
small.  Women,  girls,  and  children  fell  into  rap- 
tures, and  proclaimed  Sabbatai  Zevi  in  the  language 
of  the  Zohar  as  the  true  redeemer.  The  word  of 
the  prophet,  that  God  at  the  end  of  the  world  will 
pour  forth  his  spirit  upon  the  young,  appeared  ful- 
filled. All  prepared  for  a  speedy  exodus,  the  re- 
turn to  the  Holy  Land.  Workmen  neglected  their 
business,  and  thought  only  of  the  approaching  king- 
dom of  the  Messiah.  The  confusion  in  men's  brains 
showed  itself  in  the  way  in  which  the  Sabbatians  of 
Smyrna  strove  to  merit  a  share  in  the  time  of  grace. 
On  the  one  hand,  they  subjected  themselves  to  in- 
credible penances — fasted  several  days  in  succes- 
sion, refrained  from  sleep  for  nights,  in  order  that, 
by  Kabbalistic  prayers  (Tikkunim)  at  midnight,  they 
might  wipe  away  their  sins,  and  bathed  in  extremely 
cold  weather,  even  with  snow  on  the  ground.  Some 
buried  themselves  up  to  the  neck  in  the  soil,  and 
remained  in  their  damp  graves  until  their  limbs  were 


stiff  with  cold.  On  the  other  hand,  they  abandoned 
themselves  to  the  most  extravagant  delight,  and 
celebrated  festival  after  festival  in  honor  of  the  Mes- 
siah, whenever  Sabbatai  Zevi  showed  himself — 
always  with  a  large  train  of  followers — or  walked 
through  the  streets  singing  Psalms,  "  The  right  hand 
of  the  Lord  is  exalted,  the  right  hand  of  the  Lord 
bringeth  victory,"  or  preached  in  a  synagogue,  and 
proved  his  Messiahship  by  Kabbalistic  interpreta- 
tions of  Scripture.  He  showed  himself  only  in  pro- 
cession in  public,  waved  a  fan  to  cool  himself,  and 
whoever  was  touched  with  it  was  sure  of  the  king- 
dom of  heaven.  The  delirious  joy  of  his  followers 
knew  no  bounds.  Every  word  of  his  was  repeated 
a  thousand  times  as  the  word  of  God,  expounded, 
exaggerated,  and  intensified.  All  that  he  did  was 
held  as  miraculous,  published,  and  believed.  The 
madness  went  so  far  that  his  adherents  in  Smyrna 
and  elsewhere,  as  at  Salonica,  that  Kabbalist  hot- 
bed of  old,  married  their  children  of  twelve,  ten,  and 
even  younger,  to  one  another — seven  hundred 
couples  in  all — that,  according  to  Kabbalistic  ideas, 
they  might  cause  the  souls  not  yet  born  to  enter 
into  life,  and  thereby  remove  the  last  obstacle  to  the 
commencement  of  the  time  of  grace. 

The  activity  of  Sabbatai  Zevi  in  electrifying  the 
minds  of  simple  believers,  now  by  public  pomp  and 
pageantry,  now  by  silent  retirement,  was  supple- 
mented by  Sarah,  his  wife,  who  by  her  loose  conduct 
worked  on  the  passions  of  the  male  population. 
The  bonds  of  chastity,  drawn  much  tighter  among 
Eastern  Jews  than  in  Europe,  were  broken.  The 
assembling  of  persons  of  both  sexes  in  great  multi- 
tudes, hitherto  unheard  of,  was  a  slight  innovation. 
In  Messianic  transports  of  delight  men  and  women 
danced  with  one  another  as  if  mad,  and  in  mystical 
fervor  many  excesses  are  said  to  have  been  com- 
mitted. The  voice  of  censure  and  caution  was 
gradually  silenced ;  all  were  drawn  into  the  vortex, 

136  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

and  the  unbelievers  were  rendered  harmless.  The 
rabbi  Aaron  de  la  Papa  (died  1674),  an  aged  and 
respectable  man,  who  at  first  spoke  against  this 
Messianic  madness,  and  pronounced  the  ban  against 
its  originator,  together  with  other  rabbis,  was  pub- 
licly reviled  in  a  sermon  by  Sabbata'i,  removed  from 
office,  and  obliged  to  leave  Smyrna. 

Most  unworthy  was  the  behavior  of  the  rabbi 
Chayim  Benvenisti  (1603-1673),  a  very  considerable 
authority  on  the  Talmud,  and  of  astonishing  learn- 
ing, who,  because  he  was  a  literary  opponent  of  De 
la  Papa,  not  only  suffered  the  latter's  removal  from 
office,  but  allowed  himself  to  be  appointed  in  his 
place  by  Sabbatai.  Though  at  first  harshly  dis- 
posed towards  the  new  Messiah,  he  became  a 
believer,  and  led  the  multitude  by  his  authority. 
The  latter  were  instigated  by  Sabbatai  to  blood- 
thirsty fanaticism.  Because  a  noble,  rich,  and  re- 
spected man  in  Smyrna,  Chayim  Penya,  who  had 
liberally  supported  Chayim  Benvenisti,  opposed 
the  widespread  delusion  with  obstinate  incredulity, 
he  was  suddenly  attacked  in  the  synagogue,  perse- 
cuted, and  nearly  torn  to  pieces  by  the  raging 
multitude.  Sabbatai  Zevi,  the  pretended  incarna- 
tion of  piety,  commanded  the  synagogue  to  be 
broken  open  and  the  vile  heretic  to  be  seized.  But 
when  Penya's  daughters,  likewise  attacked  by  the 
madness,  fell  into  raptures,  and  prophesied,  the 
father  had  no  choice  but  to  put  a  good  face  upon 
the  wretched  business.  He  also  assumed  the  air  of 
a  zealous  adherent.  After  Penya's  subjugation  Sab- 
batai Zevi  became  sole  ruler  in  the  community,  and 
could  lead  the  Jewish  population  at  will  for  good 
or  for  evil.  In  this  humor  which  lasted  for  some 
months,  the  Jews  of  Smyrna  feared  their  tyrants, 
the  Turkish  cadis,  very  little ;  if  they  offered  to 
check  the  prevailing  tendency,  they  were  induced  by 
rich  presents  to  remain  inactive. 

These   events   in  the  Jews'  quarter  at   Smyrna 


made  a  great  sensation  in  ever-widening  circles. 
The  neighboring  communities  of  Asia  Minor,  many 
members  of  which  had  betaken  themselves  to 
Smyrna,  and  witnessing  the  scenes  enacted  in  that 
town,  brought  home  exaggerated  accounts  of  the 
Messiah's  power  of  attraction  and  of  working  mira- 
cles, were  swept  into  the  same  vortex.  Sabbatai's 
private  secretary,  Samuel  Primo,  took  care  that 
reports  of  the  fame  and  doings  of  the  Messiah  should 
reach  Jews  abroad.  Nathan  Ghazati  sent  circulars 
from  Palestine,  while  the  itinerant  prophets,  Sab- 
batai  Raphael  and  Matathias  Bloch,  filled  the  ears 
of  their  auditors  with  the  most  marvelous  accounts 
of  the  new  redeemer.  Christians  also  helped  to 
spread  the  story.  The  residents,  the  clerks  of 
English  and  Dutch  mercantile  houses,  and  the  evan- 
gelical ministers,  reported  the  extraordinary  occur- 
rences in  Smyrna,  and  though  they  scoffed  at  the 
folly  of  the  Jews,  could  not  withhold  half-credulous 
sympathy.  Did  they  not  see  with  their  own  eyes 
the  ecstasies,  and  hear  with  their  own  ears  the  pre- 
dictions, of  the  prophets  and  prophetesses  of  Sab- 
batai  Zevi,  the  true  redeemer?  On  the  exchanges 
in  Europe  men  spoke  of  him  as  a  remarkable  person- 
age, and  eagerly  awaited  news  from  Smyrna  or  Con- 
stantinople. At  first  the  Jews  were  dazed  by  the 
reports  that  suddenly  burst  upon  them.  Was  the 
long  cherished  hope,  that  one  day  the  oppression 
and  shame  of  Israel  would  be  removed,  and  that  he 
would  return  in  glory  to  his  home,  at  length  to  be 
realized  ?  No  wonder  that  nearly  everywhere 
scenes  similar  to  those  in  Smyrna  were  repeating 
themselves,  that  men's  minds  were  filled  with  cre- 
dulity, accepting  mere  rumors  as  accredited  facts, 
or  that  wild  excitement,  ascetic  living,  and  almsgiv- 
ing to  the  needy,  by  way  of  preparation  for  the  time 
of  the  Messiah,  were  followed  here  and  there  by 
prophetic  ecstasies.  Not  only  the  senseless  multi- 
tude, but  nearly  all  the  rabbis,  and  even  men  of 

138  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

culture  and  philosophical  judgment,  fell  a  prey  to 
this  credulity. 

At  that  time  not  a  single  man  of  weight  and 
importance  recognized  that  the  primary  source  of  all 
these  phenomena  lay  in  the  Kabbala  and  the  Zohar. 
Jacob  Sasportas,  originally  from  Africa,  had  lived  in 
Amsterdam  and  London  and,  at  this  time,  was  in 
Hamburg.  He  was  born  about  1620,  and  died  1698. 
A  man  of  courage  and  keen  penetration,  whose 
word  had  weight  through  his  Talmudical  learning, 
Sasportas  from  the  first  combated  this  Messi- 
anic rage  with  passionate  warmth.  He  was  un- 
wearied in  sending  letter  after  letter  to  the  various 
communities  and  their  guides  in  Europe,  Asia,  and 
Africa,  to  unmask  the  gross  deceptions  practiced, 
and  to  warn  against  the  sad  consequences.  But  even 
he  was  entangled  in  the  snares  of  the  Kabbala,  and 
adopted  its  principles.  On  the  ground  of  this 
spurious  philosophy,  thoroughgoing  enthusiasts 
were  more  in  the  right  than  half-hearted  adherents. 
Spinoza,  who  might  have  scattered  this  thick  mist 
with  his  luminous  ideas,  was  not  only  estranged 
from  Judaism  and  his  race,  but  even  hostile  to  them, 
and  regarded  the  prevailing  perplexities  with  in- 
difference or  malice. 

The  accounts  of  Sabbatai  Zevi  and  the  Messianic 
excitement  either  came  direct,  or  in  a  roundabout 
way  by  Alexandria,  to  Venice,  Leghorn,  and  other 
Italian  cities. 

Venice  was  led  by  the  bigoted  Kabbalist  Moses 
Zacut,  Spinoza's  very  uncongenial  fellow-student, 
who  had  formed  the  design  of  migrating  from  Am- 
sterdam through  Poland  to  Palestine,  but  stopped 
short  in  Venice.  Far  from  opposing  the  delusion 
of  the  multitude,  he  encouraged  it,  as  did  the  rabbi- 
nate of  Venice.  The  news  from  Smyrna  had  most 
striking  effect  upon  the  great  and  the  lesser  Jerusa- 
lem of  the  North.  The  prophet  of  Gaza,  who  was 
not  devoid  of  sober  calculation,  had  directed  his 


propagandist  circulars  to  the  most  considerable  and 
the  richest  communities — Amsterdam  and  Hamburg. 
These  entered  into  close  relationship  with  the  new 
Messianic  movement.  The  Jews  of  Amsterdam  and 
Hamburg  received  confirmation  of  the  extraordinary 
events  at  Smyrna  from  trustworthy  Christians,  many 
of  whom  were  sincerely  rejoiced  thereat.  Even 
Heinrich  Oldenburg,  a  distinguished  German  savant 
in  London,  wrote  to  his  friend  Spinoza  (December, 

"All  the  world  here  is  talking  of  a  rumor  ot  the  return  of  the  Israel- 
ites, dispersed  for  more  than  two  thousand  years,  to  their  own  coun- 
try. Few  believe  it,  but  many  wish  it.  ...  Should  the  news  be  con- 
firmed, it  may  bring  about  a  revolution  in  all  things." 

The  number  of  believers  in  Amsterdam  increased 
daily  among  the  Portuguese  no  less  than  among  the 
Germans,  and  numbers  of  educated  people  set  the 
example ;  the  rabbis  Isaac  Aboab  and  Raphael 
Moses  D'Aguilar,  Spinoza's  fellow-student  Isaac 
Naar,  and  Abraham  Pereira,  one  of  the  capitalists 
of  Amsterdam  and  a  writer  on  morals  in  Spanish, 
all  became  believers.  Even  the  semi-Spinozist 
Dionysius  Musaphia  became  a  zealous  adherent  of 
the  new  Messiah.  In  Amsterdam  devotion  to  the 
new  faith  expressed  itself  in  contradictory  ways — 
by  noisy  music  and  dancing  in  the  houses  of  prayer, 
and  by  gloomy,  monkish  self-mortification.  The 
printing  presses  could  not  supply  enough  copies  of 
special  prayer-books  in  Hebrew,  Portuguese  and 
Spanish,  for  the  multitude  of  believers.  In  these 
books  penances  and  formulas  were  given  by  which 
men  hoped  to  become  partakers  in  the  kingdom  of 
the  Messiah.  Many  Sabbatian  prayer-books  (Tik- 
kunim)  printed  Sabbata'i's  likeness  together  with 
that  of  King  David,  also  the  emblems  of  his  domin- 
ion, and  select  sentences  from  the  Bible.  In  confi- 
dent expectation  of  speedy  return  to  the  Holy 
Land,  the  elders  of  one  synagogue  introduced  the 
custom  of  pronouncing  the  priestly  blessing  every 

I4O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

At  Hamburg,  the  Jews  went  to  still  greater 
lengths  of  folly,  because  they  wished  to  make  a" 
demonstration  against  the  bigoted  Christians,  who 
in  many  ways  tormented  them  with  vexatious  re- 
strictions, and  when  possible  compelled  them  to  lis- 
ten to  Christian  sermons.  Whoever  entered  the 
synagogue,  and  saw  the  Jewish  worshipers  hop, 
jump,  and  dance  about  with  the  roll  of  the  Law  in 
their  arms,  serious,  respectable  men  withal,  of  Span- 
ish stateliness,  had  to  take  them  for  madmen.  In 
fact,  a  mental  disease  prevailed,  which  made  men 
childish;  even  the  most  distinguished  in  the  com- 
munity succumbed  to  it. 

Manoel  Texeira,  also  called  Isaac  Senor  Texeira, 
was  born  about  1630,  and  died  about  1695.  Some 
months  before  the  death  of  his  father,  Diego  Texeira, 
a  Marrano  nobleman  who  had  emigrated  from  Por- 
tugal and  settled  at  Hamburg,  Manoel  became  res- 
ident minister,  banker,  and  confidant  of  Christina, 
former  queen  of  Sweden.  She  valued  him  on  ac- 
count of  his  honesty,  his  noble  bearing,  and  his 
shrewdness.  She  exchanged  letters  with  him  on 
important  affairs,  conferred  with  him  on  the  political 
interests  of  Europe,  and  credited  him  with  deep, 
statesmanlike  views.  During  her  residence  at 
Hamburg  she  took  up  her  abode  in  Manoel  Tex- 
eira's  house,  to  the  vexation  of  the  local  ecclesiasti- 
cal authorities — who  were  hostile  to  the  Jews — and 
remained  quite  unconcerned,  although  the  Protest- 
ant preachers  censured  her  severely  from  the 
pulpits.  Men  of  the  highest  rank  resorted  to  Tex- 
eira's  house,  and  played  with  him  for  high  stakes. 
This  Jewish  cavalier  also  belonged  to  Sabbatai's  ad- 
herents, and  joined  in  the  absurd  dances  ;  as  also 
the  skillful  and  famous  physician  Bendito  de  Castro 
(Baruch  Nehemiah),  now  advanced  in  years,  for  a 
time  the  physician  of  the  queen  during  her  residence 
in  Hamburg.  De  Castro  was  at  that  time  director 
of  the  Hamburg  community,  and  by  his  order  the 


Messianic  follies  were  practiced  in  the  synagogue. 
Jacob  Sasportas,  who  because  of  the  outbreak  of  the 
plague  in  London  at  that  time  resided  in  Hamburg, 
used  serious  arguments  and  satire  against  this  Mes- 
sianic delusion  ;  but  he  could  not  make  his  voice 
heard,  and  only  just  escaped  rough  handling  by  the 
Sabbatians.  The  community  recently  established 
in  London  in  the  reign  of  Charles  II,  which  had 
elected  Jacob  Sasportas  as  chief  rabbi,  was  no  less 
possessed  with  this  craze.  It  derived  additional 
encouragement  from  contact  with  Christian  enthu- 
siasts who  hoped  to  bring  about  the  millennium. 
Curious  reports  flew  from  mouth  to  mouth.  It  was 
said,  that  in  the  north  of  Scotland  a  ship  had  ap- 
peared, with  silken  sails  and  ropes,  manned  by  sail- 
ors who  spoke  Hebrew.  The  flag  bore  the  inscrip- 
tion, "The  Twelve  Tribes  or  Families  of  Israel." 
Believers  living  in  London  in  English  fashion  offered 
wagers  at  the  odds  of  ten  to  one  that  Sabbatai 
would  be  anointed  king  at  Jerusalem  within  two 
years,  and  drew  formal  bills  of  exchange  upon  the 
issue.  Wherever  Jews  dwelt,  news  of  the  Kabbal- 
istic  Messiah  of  Smyrna  penetrated,  and  everywhere 
produced  wild  excitement.  The  little  community 
of  Avignon,  which  was  not  treated  in  the  mildest 
manner  by  the  papal  officers,  prepared  to  emigrate 
to  the  kingdom  of  Judah  in  the  spring  of  the  year 

If  Sabbatai  Zevi  had  not  hitherto  firmly  believed 
in  himself  and  his  dignity,  this  homage  from  nearly 
the  whole  Jewish  race  must  have  awakened  con- 
viction. Every  day  advices,  messengers,  and  depu- 
tations came  pouring  in,  greeting  him  in  most  flat- 
tering terms  as  king  of  the  Jews,  placing  life  and 
property  at  his  disposal,  and  overwhelming  him 
with  gifts.  Had  he  been  a  man  of  resolute  deter- 
mination and  strength  of  will,  he  might  have  ob- 
tained results  of  importance  with  this  genuine  en- 
thusiasm and  willing  devotion  of  his  believers.  Even 

142  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

Spinoza  entertained  the  possibility,  with  this  favor- 
able opportunity  and  the  mutability  of  human  things, 
that  the  Jews  might  re-establish  their  kingdom, 
and  again  be  the  chosen  of  God.  But  Sabbatai 
Zevi  was  satisfied  with  the  savor  of  incense.  He 
cherished  no  great  design,  or  rather,  he  lived  in  the 
delusion  that  men's  expectations  would  fulfill  them- 
selves of  their  own  accord  by  a  miracle.  Samuel 
Primo  and  some  of  his  confidants  appear,  however, 
to  have  followed  a  fixed  plan,  namely,  to  modify  the 
Rabbinical  system,  or  even  to  abolish  it.  That  was 
in  reality  implied  in  the  reign  of  the  Messiah.  The 
fundamental  conception  of  the  Zohar,  the  Bible  of  the 
Kabbalists,  is  that  in  the  time  of  grace,  in  the  world 
of  order  (Olam  ha-Tikkun),  the  laws  of  Judaism,  the 
regulations  concerning  lawful  and  forbidden  things, 
would  completely  lose  their  significance.  Now  this 
time,  the  Sabbatians  thought,  had  already  begun  ; 
consequently,  the  minute  ritualistic  code  of  the 
Shulchan  Aruch  ought  no  longer  to  be  held  binding. 
Whether  Sabbatai  himself  drew  this  conclusion,  is 
doubtful.  But  some  of  his  trusted  adherents  gave 
this  theory  prominence.  A  certain  bitterness 
towards  the  Talmud  and  the  Talmudic  method  of 
teaching  prevailed  in  this  circle.  The  Sabbatian 
mystics  felt  themselves  confined  by  the  close  meshes 
of  the  Rabbinical  network,  and  sought  to  disentangle 
it  loop  by  loop.  They  set  up  a  new  deity,  substi- 
tuting a  man-god  for  the  God  of  Israel.  In  their 
wanton  extravagance  the  Kabbalists  had  so  entirely 
changed  the  conception  of  the  deity,  that  it  had 
dwindled  away  into  nothing.  On  the  other  hand, 
they  had  so  exalted  and  magnified  the  Messiah,  that 
he  was  close  to  God.  The  Sabbatians,  or  one  of 
them  (Samuel  Primo?),  built  on  this  foundation. 
From  the  Divine  bosom  (the  Ancient  of  Days), 
they  said,  a  new  divine  personage  had  sprung, 
capable  of  restoring  the  order  in  the  world  intended 
in  the  original  plan  of  Divine  Perfection.  This  new 


person  was  the  Holy  King  (Malka  Kadisha),  the 
Messiah,  the  Primal  Man  (Adam  Kadmon),  who 
would  destroy  evil,  sin,  and  corruption,  and  cause 
the  dried-up  streams  of  grace  to  flow  again.  He, 
the  holy  king,  the  Messiah,  is  the  true  God,  the  re- 
deemer and  saviour  of  the  world,  the  God  of  Israel; 
to  him  alone  should  prayers  be  addressed.  The 
Holy  King,  or  Messiah,  combines  two  natures — one 
male,  the  other  female  ;  he  can  do  more  on  account 
of  his  higher  wisdom  than  the  Creator  of  the  world. 
Samuel  Primo,  who  dispatched  circulars  and  ordi- 
nances in  the  name  of  the  Messianic  king,  often 
used  the  signature,  "  I,  the  Lord,  your  God,  Sabbatai 
Zevi."  Whether  the  Smyrna  fanatic  authorized  such 
blasphemous  presumptuousness  cannot  be  decided, 
any  more  than  whether  in  his  heart  he  considered 
the  Jewish  law  null  and  void.  For,  although  some 
Sabbatians,  who  uttered  these  absurdities,  pretended 
to  have  heard  them  from  his  own  lips,  other  disciples 
asserted  that  he  was  an  adherent  of  traditional  Ju- 

The  truth  probably  is  that  Sabbatai  Zevi,  ab- 
sorbed in  idle  ruminating,  accepted  everything  which 
the  more  energetic  among  his  followers  taught  or 
suggested.  They  began  the  dissolution  of  Judaism 
by  the  transformation  of  the  fast  of  the  tenth  of 
Tebeth  (Asara  be-Tebeth)  into  a  day  of  rejoicing. 
Samuel  Primo,  in  the  name  of  his  divinity,  directed 
a  circular  to  the  whole  of  Israel  in  semi-official  form: 

"  The  first-begotten  Son  of  God,  Sabbatai'  Zevi,  Messiah  and  Re- 
deemer of  the  people  of  Israel,  to  all  the  sons  of  Israel,  Peace  !  Since 
ye  have  been  deemed  worthy  to  behold  the  great  day  and  the  fulfill- 
ment of  God's  word  by  the  prophets,  your  lament  and  sorrow  must 
be  changed  into  joy,  and  your  fasting  into  merriment,  for  ye  shall 
weep  no  more.  Rejoice  with  song  and  melody,  and  change  the  day 
formerly  spent  in  sadness  and  sorrow,  into  a  day  of  jubilee,  because 
I  have  appeared." 

So  firmly  rooted  in  men's  minds  was  faith  in  Sab- 
batai Zevi,  that  the  communities  which  the  letter 
reached  in  time  discontinued  this  fast,  although 

144  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

they  believed  that  they  could  enter  into  the  kingdom 
of  the  Messiah  only  by  strict  abstinence.  The  staunch 
orthodox  party,  however,  was  shocked  at  this  innova- 
tion. They  could  not  conceive  the  Messiah  as  other 
than  a  pious  rabbi,  who,  if  possible,  would  invent 
fresh  burdens.  A  thousand  times  had  they  read  in 
the  Zohar,  and  repeated  to  one  another,  that  in  the 
time  of  the  Messiah  the  days  of  mourning  would  be 
changed  into  days  of  feasting,  and  the  Law  in  gen- 
eral would  be  no  longer  binding ;  but  when  words 
were  changed  into  deeds,  horror  seized  them. 
Those  rabbis  who  before  had  regarded  the  move- 
ment half  incredulously,  or  had  not  interfered  with  the 
penances  and  deeds  of  active  benevolence  to  which 
many  of  the  Sabbatians  had  felt  prompted,  thereby 
giving  silent  assent,  now  raised  their  voice  against 
the  law-destroying  Messiahship.  There  began  to 
be  formed  in  every  large  community  a  small  party 
of  unbelievers  (Kofrim),  chiefly  men  learned  in  the 
Talmud,  who  desired  to  guard  the  established  re- 
ligion against  attacks  and  disruption. 

Rabbinical  Judaism  and  the  Kabbala,  hitherto  in 
close  confederation,  began  to  be  at  variance  with 
each  other;  this  doubtful  ally  showing  herself  at 
last  in  her  true  form  as  the  enemy  of  Rabbinism. 
But  this  sobering  discovery,  that  the  Kabbala  was 
a  serpent  nursed  into  life  by  the  rabbis  themselves, 
was  recognized  only  by  a  few.  They  still  remained  true 
to  her,  imputing  the  growing  hostility  to  the  Shul- 
chan  Aruch  to  Sabbata'i  and  his  aiders  and  abettors. 
It  was  too  late,  their  voices  were  drowned  in  shouts 
of  joy.  Solomon  Algazi,  and  some  members  of  the 
Smyrna  rabbinate  who  shared  his  opinions,  tried  to 
oppose  the  abolition  of  the  fast,  but  were  nearly 
stoned  to  death  by  the  multitude  of  believers,  and 
were  obliged,  like  Aaron  de  la  Papa,  to  leave  the 
city  in  haste. 

But  the  Messiah  was  at  last  forced  to  tear  him- 
self out  of  his  fool's  paradise  and  the  atmosphere 


of  incense  in  Smyrna,  in  order  to  accomplish  his 
work  in  the  Turkish  capital — either  because  his  fol- 
lowers compelled  him  to  put  his  light,  not  under  a 
bushel,  but  upon  it,  that  the  world  at  large  might 
see  it,  or  because  the  cadi  could  no  longer  endure 
the  mad  behavior  of  the  Jews,  and  did  not  wish  to 
bear  the  sole  responsibility.  It  is  said  that  the  cadi 
gave  Sabbatai  Zevi  three  days  to  go  to  Constanti- 
nople and  appear  before  the  highest  Turkish  author- 
ities. In  his  delusion,  Zevi  perhaps  believed  that 
a  miracle  would  fulfill  the  prophecies  of  Nathan 
Ghazati  and  other  prophets,  that  he  would  easily  be 
able  to  take  the  crown  from  the  sultan.  He  pre- 
pared for  his  journey.  Before  he  left  Smyrna,  he 
divided  the  world  among  his  six-and-twenty  faithful 
ones,  and  called  them  kings  and  princes.  His 
brothers,  Elijah  and  Joseph  Zevi,  received  the  lion's 
share  ;  the  former  was  named  king  of  kings,  the 
latter  king  of  the  kings  of  Judah.  To  his  other 
faithful  followers  he  disclosed,  in  Kabbalistic  lan- 
guage, which  soul  of  the  former  kings  of  Judah  or 
Israel  dwelt  in  each  of  their  bodies,  that  is,  had 
passed  into  them  by  transmigration.  Among  the 
better  known  names  were  those  of  the  companion 
of  his  youth,  Isaac  Silveira,  and  Abraham  Yachini  at 
Constantinople,  who  had  imparted  to  him  the  art  of 
mysticism.  Raphael  Joseph  Chelebi  could  least  of 
all  be  passed  over ;  he  had  been  the  first  firm  sup- 
porter of  the  Messiah,  and  was  called  King  Joash. 
A  Marrano  physician,  who  had  escaped  from  Por- 
tugal, and  was  his  devoted  adherent,  received  the 
crown  of  Portugal.  Even  his  former  opponent 
Chayim  Penya  received  a  kingdom  of  his  own.  A 
beggar,  Abraham  Rubio  of  Smyrna,  was  likewise 
raised  to  a  throne,  under  the  name  of  Josiah,  and  was 
so  firmly  convinced  of  his  approaching  sovereignty 
that  he  refused  large  sums  for  his  imaginary  kingdom. 
Sabbatai  Zevi  appears  purposely  to  have  started 
on  his  Messianic  journey  to  Constantinople  exactly 

146  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

at  the  beginning  of  the  mystic  year  1666.  He  was 
accompanied  by  some  of  his  followers,  his  secretary 
Samuel  Primo  being  in  his  train.  He  had  an- 
nounced the  day  of  his  arrival  at  Constantinople, 
but  circumstances  proved  false  to  him.  The  ship 
in  which  he  sailed  had  to  contend  with  bad  weather, 
and  the  voyage  was  prolonged  by  weeks.  Since 
the  sea  did  not  devour  him,  the  Sabbatians  com- 
posed marvelous  stories  describing  how  the  storm 
and  the  waves  had  obeyed  the  Messiah.  At 
some  place  on  the  coast  of  the  Dardanelles  the  pas- 
sengers of  the  weather-beaten  vessel  were  obliged 
to  land,  and  there  Sabbatai  was  arrested  by  Turkish 
officers,  sent  to  take  him  prisoner.  The  grand 
vizir,  Ahmed  Coprili,  had  heard  of  the  excitement 
of  the  Jews  in  Smyrna,  and  desired  to  suppress  it. 
The  officers  had  strict  orders  to  bring  the  pretended 
redeemer  in  fetters  to  the  capital,  and  therefore 
hastened  to  meet  the  ship  by  which  he  came.  Ac- 
cording to  orders,  they  put  him  in  fetters,  and 
brought  him  to  a  small  town  in  the  neighborhood  of 
Constantinople,  because  the  eve  of  the  Sabbath  was 
near.  Informed  by  a  messenger  of  his  arrival  at 
Cheknese  Kutschuk,  his  followers  hastened  from 
the  capital  to  see  him,  but  found  him  in  a  pitiable 
plight  and  in  chains.  The  money  which  they 
brought  with  them  procured  him  some  alleviation, 
and  on  the  following  Sunday  (February,  1666),  he 
was  brought  by  sea  to  Constantinople — but  in  how 
different  a  manner  to  what  he  and  his  believers  had 
anticipated !  However,  his  coming  caused  excite- 
ment. At  the  landing-place  there  was  such  a  crowd 
of  Jews  and  Turks  who  desired  to  see  the  Messiah, 
that  the  police  were  obliged  to  superintend  the  dis- 
embarkation. An  under-pasha  commissioned  to 
receive  him  welcomed  the  man-god  with  a  vigorous 
box  on  the  ear.  Sabbatai  Zevi  is  said,  however,  to 
have  wisely  turned  the  other  cheek  to  the  blow. 
Since  he  could  not  play  the  part  of  the  triumphant, 

CH.  IV.  SABBATAI    A    PRISONER.  147 

he  at  least  wished  to  play  that  of  the  suffering  Mes- 
siah with  good  grace.  When  brought  before  the 
deputy-vizir  (Kaimakam),  Mustapha  Pasha,  he  did 
not  stand  the  first  test  brilliantly.  Asked  what  his 
intentions  were,  and  why  he  had  roused  the  Jews  to 
such  a  pitch  of  excitement,  Sabbata'i  is  said  to  have 
answered  that  he  was  nothing  more  than  a  Jewish 
Chacham,  come  from  Jerusalem  to  the  capital  to  col- 
lect alms  ;  he  could  not  help  it  if  the  Jews  testified 
so  much  devotion  to  him.  Mustapha  thereupon 
sent  him  to  a  prison  in  which  insolvent  Jewish  debt- 
ors were  confined. 

Far  from  being  disappointed  at  this  treatment, 
his  followers  in  Constantinople  persisted  in  their 
delusion.  For  some  days  they  kept  quietly  at  home, 
because  the  street  boys  mocked  them  by  shouting, 
"  Is  he  coming  ?  is  he  coming?  "  (Gheldi  mi,  Gheldi 
mi.)  But  they  soon  began  again  to  assert  that  he 
was  the  true  Messiah,  and  that  the  sufferings  which 
he  had  encountered  were  necessary,  a  condition  to 
his  glorification.  The  prophets  continued  to  pro- 
claim the  speedy  redemption  of  Sabbatai  and  of  all 
Israel.  A  Turkish  dervish  filled  the  streets  of  Con- 
stantinople with  prophecies  of  the  Messiah,  whose 
enemies  said  that  Sabbatai's  followers  had  bribed 
him.  Thousands  crowded  daily  to  Sabbatai's  place 
of  confinement  merely  to  catch  a  glimpse  of  him. 
English  merchants  whose  claims  were  not  satisfied 
by  their  Jewish  debtors  applied  to  the  Messiah. 
An  order  in  his  handwriting,  admonishing  defaulters 
to  do  justice  to  their  creditors,  as  otherwise  they 
would  have  no  share  in  his  joy  and  glory,  had  the 
best  effect.  Samuel  Primo  took  care  that  most  fab- 
ulous accounts  should  reach  the  Jews  of  Smyrna 
and  those  at  a  distance,  of  the  reverence  paid  the 
Messiah  by  the  Turkish  authorities.  At  heart,  he 
wrote,  they  were  all  convinced  of  his  dignity.  The 
expectations  of  the  Jews  were  raised  to  a  still  higher 
pitch,  and  the  most  exaggerated  hopes  fostered  to 

HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

a  greater  degree.  It  was  looked  upon  as  a  palpable 
miracle  that  summary  Turkish  justice  allowed  him, 
the  rebellious  Jew,  to  live.  Did  not  this  act  of 
mercy  prove  that  he  was  feared?  The  Turkish 
government  in  fact  seems  to  have  stood  in  awe  of 
the  Jewish  Messiah.  The  Cretan  war  was  impend- 
ing, which  demanded  all  the  energy  of  the  half- 
exhausted  Turkish  empire.  The  prudent  grand 
vizir,  Ahmed  Coprili,  did  not  like  to  sentence  him 
to  death,  thus  making  a  fresh  martyr,  and  causing 
a  desperate  riot  among  the  Jews.  Even  the  Turks, 
charmed  by  Sabbatai's  manner,  and  deceived  by  ex- 
traordinary miraculous  manifestations,  especially  by 
the  prophecies  of  women  and  children,  joined  the 
ranks  of  his  worshipers.  It  seemed  to  Coprili 
equally  dangerous  to  leave  Sabbatai,  during  his  ab- 
sence at  the  war,  in  Constantinople,  where  he  might 
easily  add  fuel  to  the  ever-increasing  excitement  in 
the  capital.  He  therefore  commanded,  after  Sab- 
batai had  been  imprisoned  in  Constantinople  for 
two  months — from  the  beginning  of  February  to 
April  17 — that  he  be  taken  to  the  castle  of  the 
Dardanelles  at  Abydos,  where  state-prisoners  were 
wont  to  be  kept  in  custody.  It  was  a  mild  confine- 
ment ;  some  of  his  friends,  among  them  Samuel 
Primo,  were  allowed  to  accompany  him  thither. 
The  Sabbatians  called  this  fortress  by  a  mystical 
name,  the  Tower  of  Strength  (Migdal  Oz). 

If  Sabbatai  Zevi  had  doubted  himself  for  a  mo- 
ment, his  courage  rose  through  his  change  of  abode, 
the  respectful  clemency  shown  him  by  the  divan, 
and  the  steady  and  increasing  devotion  of  the  Jews. 
He  felt  himself  the  Messiah  again.  On  his  arrival 
at  the  castle  of  the  Dardanelles  on  April  19,  the  day 
of  preparation  for  the  Passover,  he  slew  a  Paschal 
lamb  for  himself  and  his  followers,  and  ate  it  with 
the  fat,  which  is  forbidden  by  the  laws  of  the  Talmud. 
He  is  said,  while  doing  so,  to  have  used  a  blessing 
which  implied  that  the  Mosaic,  Talmudic,  and  Rab- 

CH.   IV.  SABBATAI    AT    ABYDOS.  149 

binical  law  was  abrogated — "  Blessed  be  God,  who 
hath  restored  again  that  which  was  forbidden."  At 
Abydos  he  held  regular  court  with  the  large  sums 
of  money  which  his  brothers  and  his  rich  adherents 
sent  him  with  lavish  hand.  His  wife  Sarah,  who 
was  allowed  to  remain  with  him,  demeaned  herself 
as  the  Messianic  queen,  and  bewitched  the  multitude 
by  her  charms.  From  the  Turkish  capital  a  number 
of  ships  conveyed  his  followers  to  the  castle  of  the 
Dardanelles.  The  fare  on  vessels  rose  in  conse- 
quence daily.  From  other  countries  and  continents, 
too,  crowds  of  Jews  streamed  to  the  place  of  his 
captivity,  in  the  hope  to  be  deemed  worthy  of  be- 
holding him.  The  governor  of  the  castle  reaped 
advantage  thereby,  for  he  charged  the  visitors  en- 
trance money,  and  raised  it  to  fifteen  or  thirty  marks 
a  head.  Even  the  inhabitants  of  the  place  profited, 
because  they  could  earn  high  prices  for  board  and 
lodging.  A  veritable  shower  of  gold  poured  into 
Abydos.  The  impression  which  these  facts,  indus- 
triously circulated  and  exaggerated,  made  on  the 
Jews  in  Europe,  Asia,  and  Africa,  and  the  effect 
which  they  produced,  are  indescribable.  With  few 
exceptions  all  were  convinced  of  Sabbata'i's  Mes- 
siahship,  and  of  a  speedy  redemption,  in  two  years 
at  the  latest.  They  argued  that  he  had  had  the 
courage  to  go  to  the  Turkish  capital,  although  he 
had  openly  proclaimed  the  dethronement  of  the 
sultan,  yet  had  not  forfeited  his  life,  but  had  been 
left  in  a  sort  of  mock  imprisonment.  What  more 
was  needed  to  confirm  the  predictions  of  prophets 
of  ancient  and  modern  times  ?  The  Jews  accord- 
ingly prepared  seriously  to  return  to  their  original 
home.  In  Hungary  they  began  to  unroof  their 
houses.  In  large  commercial  cities,  where  Jews 
took  the  lead  in  wholesale  business,  such  as  Am- 
sterdam, Leghorn,  and  Hamburg,  stagnation  of 
trade  ensued.  In  almost  all  synagogues  his  initials, 
S  and  Z,  were  posted  up  with  more  or  less  adorn- 

I5O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

ment.     Almost  everywhere  a  prayer  for  him  was 
inserted    in  the  following  form  :    "  Bless  our  Lord 
and  King,  the  holy  and  righteous  Sabbatai  Zevi,  the 
Messiah  of  the  God  of  Jacob."     In  Europe  the  eyes 
of  all  communities  were  directed  to  Amsterdam,  the 
representatives  of  which  adhered  to  the  movement 
most  enthusiastically.    Every  post-day  which  brought 
fresh  letters  was  a  holiday  for  them.     The  Amster- 
dam Jews  showed  their  joy  openly,  and  were  afraid 
neither  of  the  Christian  population  nor  of  the  mag- 
istrates.    Isaac  Naar,  of  Amsterdam,  and  the  rich 
Abraham  Pereira,  prepared  themselves  for  a  journey 
to  the  Messiah,  and  the  former  ironically  announced 
it  to  the  unbelieving  Jacob  Sasportas.     The  Ham- 
burg   community  always  imitated  that  of  Amster- 
dam, or  went  beyond  it.     The  council  introduced 
the  custom  of  praying  for  Sabbatai  Zevi,  not  only 
on   Saturday,  but  also  on  Monday  and  Thursday. 
The  unbelievers  were  compelled  to  remain  in  the 
synagogue  and  join  in  the  prayer  with  a  loud  Amen. 
And  all  this  was  done  at  the  suggestion  of  the  edu- 
cated physician  Bendito  de  Castro.     The  believers 
went  so  far  as  to  threaten  their  opponents  if  they 
ventured  to  utter  a  word  of  censure  against  Sab- 
batai.    At  Venice,  on  the  Sabbath,  a  quarrel  broke 
out  between  the  Sabbatians  and  their  opponents, 
and  one  of  the  latter  nearly  lost  his    life.     When 
Sabbatai  was  asked  how  the  Kofrim  (unbelievers) 
should  be  dealt  with,  he,  or  Samuel  Primo,  answered 
that  they  might  be  put  to  death  without  ado,  even 
on  the  Sabbath ;  the  executors  of  such  punishment 
were  sure  to  enjoy  eternal  bliss.     A  learned  Tal- 
mudist  at  Buda,  Jacob  Ashkenazi  of  Wilna,  whose 
son  and  grandson  became  zealous  persecutors  of 
the  Sabbatians,  was  guided  by  the  decision,  and  de- 
clared a  member  of  the  community  worthy  of  death, 
because  he  would  not  say  the  blessing  for  Sabbatai 
Zevi.     In  Moravia  (at  Nikolsburg)  there  were  such 
violent  dissensions  and  tumults  in  consequence  of 


the  craze  about  the  Messiah,  that  the  governor  of 
the  province  was  obliged  to  post  up  notices  to  calm 
men's  minds.  At  Salee,  in  the  north-western  part 
of  Africa,  the  ruling  Emir  Gailan  (Gailand)  ordered 
a  persecution  of  the  Jews,  because  they  too  openly 
displayed  the  hope  of  their  coming  redemption. 

Many  Christians  shared  the  delusive  faith  in  the 
new  Messiah,  and  the  weekly  tidings  from  the  East 
concerning  Sabbatai  Zevi  and  his  doings  made  an 
overwhelming  impression  on  them.  At  Hamburg, 
for  example,  pious  Protestants  betook  themselves  to 
the  proselytizing  preacher  Esdras  Edzard,  and 
asked  him  what  was  to  be  done  : 

"We  have  certain  accounts,  not  only  irom  Jews,  but  also  from  our 
Christian  correspondents  at  Smyrna,  Aleppo,  Constantinople,  and 
other  places  in  Turkey,  that  the  new  Messiah  of  the  Jews  does  many 
miracles,  and  the  Jews  of  the  whole  world  flock  to  him.  What  will 
become  of  the  Christian  doctrine  and  the  belief  in  our  Messiah  ?" 

The  attention  bestowed  by  educated  classes  of 
Christians  upon  the  extraordinary  events,  which 
were  published  as  news  of  the  day,  in  turn  enhanced 
the  credulity  of  the  Jews.  In  short,  every  circum- 
stance tended  to  increase  the  deception.  Only 
Jacob  Sasportas  raised  his  warning  voice  against 
the  imposture.  He  sent  letters  in  all  directions, 
here  to  point  out  the  absurdity  of  current  rumors, 
there  to  collect  exact  information.  He  failed  to 
obtain  striking  evidence  of  Sabbatai's,  or  Nathan's, 
roguery.  Forged  letters  and  documents  were  the 
order  of  the  day  ;  conscientiousness  and  uprightness 
had  utterly  disappeared.  Thus  the  mist  of  false  be- 
lief grew  thicker  and  thicker,  and  one  was  no  longer 
able  to  get  at  the  truth. 

For  three  months,  from  April  to  July,  Sabbatai 
had  been  leading  the  life  of  a  prince  in  the  castle 
of  the  Dardanelles,  intent  only  upon  his  own  apothe- 
osis. Either  from  caprice  or  at  Samuel  Primo's  sug- 
gestion, he  declared  the  fast  of  the  i  7th  Tammuz  to 
be  abolished,  because  on  this  day  he  had  realized  his 

152  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

Messianic  character.  Was  this  a  mere  freak,  or  was 
it  done  with  the  intention  of  accustoming-  his  adher- 
ents to  the  abolition  of  Rabbinical  Judaism  ?  At  all 
events,  he  appointed  the  23d  of  Tammuz  (July  25th), 
a  Monday,  to  be  kept  as  a  strict  Sabbath.  More 
than  four  thousand  Jews,  men  and  women,  who  hap- 
pened to  be  at  Abydos,  celebrated  this  new  Sabbath 
with  great  scrupulousness.  Sabbatai,  or  his  secre- 
tary, sent  circulars  to  the  communities  directing 
them  to  celebrate  the  next  fast,  the  ninth  of  Ab,  his 
birthday,  as  a  festival  by  a  special  service,  with 
Psalms  specially  chosen,  with  eating  of  choice  meats, 
and  the  sound  of  the  harp  and  singing.  He  is  said 
to  have  contemplated  the  annulling  of  all  the  Jewish 
festivals,  even  the  Day  of  Atonement,  and  the  intro- 
duction of  others  in  their  stead.  But  before  this 
could  be  done,  he  was  guilty  in  his  pride  of  an  act 
of  folly  which  caused  the  whole  fabric  to  collapse. 

Among  the  many  thousand  visitors  from  far  and 
near,  two  Poles  from  Lemberg  made  a  pilgrimage 
to  him,  to  confirm  their  faith  and  feast  on  his  count- 
enance. One  was  Isaiah,  son  of  a  highly-esteemed 
Rabbinical  authority,  the  aged  David  Levi  (Ture 
Zahab),  and  grandson  of  the  no  less  celebrated  Joel 
Serkes ;  the  other,  his  half-brother,  Leb  Herz. 
From  these  two  Poles  Sabbatai  heard  that  in  the 
distant  land  from  which  they  came,  another  prophet, 
Nehemiah  Cohen,  was  announcing  the  approach  of 
the  Messiah's  kingdom,  but  not  through  Sabbatai. 
He  gave  Isaiah  Levi  a  laconic  letter  to  take  to  his 
father,  in  which  he  promised  the  Jews  of  Poland 
revenge  for  the  massacre  by  the  Cossacks,  and 
peremptorily  ordered  Nehemiah  to  come  to  him 
with  all  speed.  He  laid  so  much  stress  on  Nehe- 
miah's  coming,  that  he  made  his  followers  eager  for 
his  arrival.  The  two  Poles  traveled  back  delighted 
to  Lemberg,  and  everywhere  told  of  the  splendor 
amid  which  they  had  seen  the  Messiah.  Nehemiah 
was  ordered  to  hasten  to  Sabbatai,  and  he  was  not 

CH.   IV.  NEHEMIAH    COHEN.  153 

deterred  by  the  length  of  the  journey.  When  he 
arrived  at  Abydos  at  the  beginning  of  September, 
he  was  immediately  admitted  to  an  audience  which 
lasted  several  days.  The  Polish  prophet  and  the 
Smyrna  Messiah  did  not  laugh  in  one  another's  faces, 
like  two  augurs,  but  carried  on  a  grave  discussion. 
The  subject  of  their  mystical  conversation  remained 
unknown,  as  may  be  imagined.  It  was  said  to  con- 
cern the  forerunner  of  the  Messiah — the  Messiah  of 
Ephraim — whether  or  not  he  had  appeared  and 
perished,  as  had  been  predicted.  Nehemiah  was 
not  convinced  by  the  long  argument,  and  did  not 
conceal  the  fact.  On  this  account,  the  fanatical 
Sabbatians  are  said  to  have  secretly  made  signs  to 
one  another  to  do  away  with  this  dangerous  Pole. 
He  fortunately  escaped  from  the  castle,  betook  him- 
self forthwith  to  Adrianople,  to  the  Kaimakam  Mus- 
tapha,  became  a  Mahometan,  and  betrayed  the  fan- 
tastic and  treasonable  designs  which  Sabbatai  Zevi 
cherished,  and  which,  he  said,  had  remained  unknown 
to  the  government,  only  because  the  overseer  of  the 
castle  of  Dardanelles  had  an  interest  in  the  con- 
course of  Jews. 

The  Kaimakam  conveyed  the  intelligence  to  the 
sultan,  Mahomet  IV,  and  the  course  to  be  pursued 
with  regard  to  Sabbatai  was  maturely  considered, 
the  mufti  Vanni  being  also  admitted  to  aid  the  de- 
liberations. To  make  short  work  with  the  rebellious 
schemer  appeared  impracticable  to  the  council,  par- 
ticularly as  Mahometans  also  followed  him.  If  he 
should  fall  as  a  martyr,  a  new  sect  might  arise,  which 
would  kindle  fresh  disturbances.  Vanni,  a  prosely- 
tizing priest,  proposed  that  an  attempt  be  made  to 
bring  Sabbatai  over  to  Islam.  This  advice  was 
followed,  and  the  sultan's  physician  (Hakim  Bashi), 
a  Jewish  renegade,  by  name  Guidon,  was  employed 
as  the  medium.  A  messenger  suddenly  appeared 
at  Abydos,  drove  away  the  Jews,  who  were  besieg- 
ing the  Messiah  with  homage,  conveyed  him  to 

154  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

Adrianople,  and  brought  him  first  to  the  Hakim 
Bashi,  who,  as  a  former  coreligionist,  would  be  able 
to  convert  him  the  more  easily.  The  physician  rep- 
resented to  him  the  dreadful  punishment  that  would 
inevitably  befall  him — he  would  be  bound,  and 
scourged  through  the  streets  with  burning  torches, 
if  he  did  not  appease  the  wrath  of  the  sultan  by 
adopting  Islamism.  It  is  not  known  whether  this 
call  to  apostatize  from  Judaism  cost  the  conceited 
Messiah  great  mental  conflict.  He  had  not  much 
manly  courage,  and  Judaism,  in  its  existing  form,  was 
perhaps  dead  for  him.  So  he  adopted  Guidon's 
advice.  The  following  day  (Elul  13,  September  14, 
1666)  he  was  brought  before  the  sultan.  He  imme- 
diately cast  off  his  Jewish  head-dress,  in  sign  of  con- 
tempt ;  a  page  offered  him  a  white  Turkish  turban 
and  a  green  instead  of  the  black  mantle  which  he 
wore,  and  so  his  conversion  to  the  Mahometan 
religion  was  accomplished.  When  his  dress  was 
changed,  it  is  said  that  several  pounds  of  biscuit 
were  found  in  his  loose  trousers.  The  sultan  was 
highly  pleased  at  this  termination  of  the  movement, 
gave  him  the  name  of  Mehmed  Effendi,  and  ap- 
pointed him  his  door-keeper — Capigi  Bashi  Otorak 
— with  a  considerable  monthly  salary ;  he  was  to 
remain  near  the  sultan.  The  Messiah's  wife,  Sarah, 
the  Polish  rabbi's  fair  daughter  of  loose  behavior, 
likewise  became  a  Mahometan,  under  the  name  of 
Fauma  Kadin,  and  received  rich  presents  from  the 
sultana.  Some  of  Sabbata'i's  followers  also  went 
over  to  Islam.  The  mufti  Vanni  instructed  them  in 
the  Mahometan  religion.  Sabbatai'  is  said  to  have 
married  a  Mahometan  slave,  in  addition  to  his  wife 
Sarah,  at  the  command  of  the  mufti.  Nehemiah 
Cohen,  who  had  brought  about  this  sudden  change, 
did  not  remain  in  Turkey,  but  returned  to  Poland, 
took  off  the  turban,  and  lived  quietly  without  breath- 
ing a  word  of  what  had  happened.  He  disappeared 
as  suddenly  as  he  had  come  forward.  The  ex-Mes- 

CH.  IV.      EFFECTS  OF  SABBATAI S  APOSTASY.         155 

siah  impudently  wrote,  some  days  after  his  conver- 
sion, to  his  brothers  at  Smyrna :  "  God  has  made 
me  an  Ishmaelite  ;  He  commanded,  and  it  was  done. 
The  ninth  day  of  my  regeneration."  Nearly  at  the 
same  time  the  rabbis  and  presidents  of  schools  at 
Amsterdam  assembled,  and  sent  a  letter  of  homage 
to  Sabbatai  Zevi,  to  testify  their  belief  in  and 
submission  to  him.  The  semi-Spinozist  Dionysius 
(Benjamin)  Musaphia,  vexed  at  not  being  invited, 
wrote  a  separate  letter  to  Sabbatai  Zevi,  signed  by 
himself  and  two  members  of  the  school  (Elul  24th). 
A  week  later,  twenty-four  distinguished  men  of 
Amsterdam  sent  another  letter  of  homage  to  the 
apostate  Messiah.  At  their  head  was  Abraham 
Gideon  Abudiente.  Did  these  letters  reach  the 
Mahometan  Mehmed  Effendi?  At  Hamburg,  where 
likewise  his  conversion  was  not  suspected,  the  bless- 
ing was  five  times  pronounced  over  the  renegade 
Sabbatai,  on  the  Day  of  Atonement  (October  9, 

But  when  the  rumor  of  his  apostasy  went  the 
rounds  of  the  communities,  and  could  no  longer  be 
denied,  confidence  was  succeeded  by  a  bewildering 
sense  of  disenchantment  and  shame.  The  hio-hest 


representative  of  Judaism  had  abandoned  and  be- 
trayed it!  Chayim  Benvenisti,  the  rabbi  of  Smyrna, 
who  had  invested  the  false  Messiah  with  authority 
from  motives  far  from  honorable,  almost  died  of 
shame.  Mahometans  and  Christians  pointed  with 
scorn  at  the  blind,  credulous  Jews.  The  street  boys 
in  Turkey  openly  jeered  at  Jewish  passers-by.  But 
this  ridicule  was  not  all.  So  widespread  a  com- 
motion could  not  die  out  and  leave  no  trace.  The 
sultan  thought  of  destroying  all  the  Jews  in  his 
empire,  because  they  had  formed  rebellious  plans, 
and  of  ordering  all  children  under  seven  to  be 


brought  up  in  Islamism.  The  newly  converted 
Mahometan,  Mehmed  Effendi,  in  order  to  revenge 
himself,  is  said  to  have  betrayed  his  own  plans,  and 

156  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IV. 

the  consent  of  the   Jews  thereto.     Two  councilors 
and    the  sultana-mother  are  reported  to  have  dis- 
suaded the  sultan  from  his  design  by  the  observa- 
tion that  the  Jews  ought  to  be  regarded  as  having 
been  misled.     Fifty  chief  rabbis,  however,  because 
they  had  neglected  their  duty  in  teaching  the  people, 
were  to  be  executed — twelve  from  Constantinople, 
twelve  from  Smyrna,  and  the  remaining  twenty-six 
from  the  other  communities  in  Turkey.     It  was  re- 
garded as  a  special  miracle  that  this  resolution  re- 
mained a  dead  letter,  and  that  the  Jews  did  not  even 
have  to  pay  a  fine.     The  division  in  the  communities 
might  have  had  even  worse   consequences,  if  the 
unbelievers  had   heaped  scorn  and  mockery  upon 
the  late  devotees.     But  the  colleges    of  rabbis  in 
the    East  interposed,  and   sought   to  appease  and 
reconcile,  arid  threatened  to  excommunicate  anyone 
who,  by  word  or  deed,  offended  a  former  Sabbatian. 
Although    men's    minds    were   calmed    for   the 
moment,  it  was  long   before  peace   was    restored. 
After  the  first  surprise  at  Sabbata'i's  conversion  was 
over,    his    zealous  followers,  especially  at  Smyrna, 
began  to  recover.     They  could  not  persuade  them- 
selves   that  they  had  really  been   running   after  a 
shadow.     There  must  be,  or  have  been,  some  truth 
in    Sabbatai's  Messianic  claims,  since  all   signs  so 
entirely  agreed.     The    Kabbalists   easily  got  over 
objections.     Sabbatai  had  not  turned  Mahometan  ; 
a  phantom  had  played  that  part,  while  he  himself 
had  retired  to  heaven  or  to  the  Ten  Tribes,  and 
would  soon  appear  again  to  accomplish  the  work  of 
redemption.     As  at  the  time  of  the  origin  of  Chris- 
tianity mystical  believers  (Docetae)  interpreted  the 
crucifixion  of  Jesus  as  a  phantasm,  so  now  thorough- 
going  mystics  explained  Sabbatai's  apostasy  from 
Judaism.     Others,    such   as    Samuel    Primo,    Jacob 
Faliachi,  Jacob  Israel   Duchan,  who  had  designed, 
through  him,  to  brinof  about  the  fall  of  Rabbinical  fu- 

^j  <-j  J 

daism,  and  would  not  abandon  their  plan  lightly,  still 


clung  to  him.  The  prophets,  who  had  been  mani- 
festly proved  false  through  his  conversion,  were 
most  interested  in  remaining  true  to  him.  They  did 
not  care  quietly  to  renounce  their  functions  and 
withdraw  into  obscurity,  or  be  laughed  at.  The 
prophets  residing  at  Smyrna,  Constantinople, 
Rhodes,  and  Chios  were  silenced;  but  the  itinerant 
prophets,  Nathan  Ghazati  and  Sabbatai  Raphael,  did 
not  choose  to  abdicate.  The  former  had  remained 
in  Palestine  during  Sabbatai's  triumph  in  order  to 
be  paid  homage  on  his  own  account.  After  the 
deception  was  unmasked  he  regarded  himself  as  no 
longer  safe  ;  he  made  preparations  to  go  to  Smyrna, 
and  continued  to  send  out  his  mystical,  bombastic 
letters.  From  Damascus  he  warned  the  Jews  of 
Aleppo  by  letter  not  to  allow  themselves  to  be  dis- 
couraged by  strange  circumstances  in  their  belief 
in  the  Messiah ;  there  was  a  deep  mystery  shortly  to 
be  revealed  ;  but  wherein  the  mystery  consisted 
could  not  yet  be  disclosed.  By  these  circulars  the 
credulous  were  confirmed  afresh  in  their  delusion. 
In  Smyrna  many  synagogues  continued  to  insert  the 
blessing  for  Sabbatai  in  their  prayers.  Hence  the 
rabbis  were  obliged  to  interfere  vigorously,  especi- 
ally the  rabbinate  of  the  Turkish  capital.  They  laid 
under  a  ban  all  who  should  even  pronounce  the 
name  of  Sabbatai,  or  converse  with  his  followers, 
and  threatened  to  hand  them  over  to  the  secular 
arm.  Nathan  Ghazati,  in  particular,  was  excom- 
municated, and  everyone  warned  against  harboring 
him  or  approaching  him  (Kislev  12,  December  9, 
1666).  These  sentences  of  excommunication  were 
so  far  effectual  that  Nathan  could  not  stay  anywhere 
for  any  length  of  time,  and  even  in  Smyrna  he  could 
remain  only  a  short  time  in  secret  at  the  house  of  a 
believer.  But  the  rabbis  were  not  able  entirely  to 
exorcise  the  imposture.  One  of  the  most  zealous 
Sabbatians,  probably  Samuel  Primo,  who  was  ready 
in  invention,  threw  out  a  more  effective  suggestion 


158  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  OH.   IV. 

than  that  of  the  mock  conversion.  All  had  been 
ordained  as  it  had  come  to  pass.  Precisely  by  his 
going  over  to  Islam  had  Sabbatai  proved  himself 
the  Messiah.  It  was  a  Kabbalistic  mystery  which 
some  writings  had  announced  beforehand.  As  the 


first  redeemer  Moses  was  obliged  to  reside  for  some 
time  at  Pharaoh's  court,  not  as  an  Israelite,  but  to 
all  appearance  an  Egyptian,  even  so  must  the  last 
redeemer  live  some  time  at  a  heathen  court,  appar- 
ently a  heathen,  "outwardly  sinful,  but  inwardly 
pure."  It  was  Sabbatai's  task  to  free  the  lost 
emanations  of  the  soul,  which  pervade  even  Mahome- 
tans, and  by  identifying  them  with  himself,  as  it  were, 
bring  them  back  to  the  fountain-head.  By  redeem- 
ing souls  in  all  circles,  he  was  most  effectually 
furthering  the  kingdom  of  the  Messiah.  This  sug- 
gestion was  a  lucky  hit ;  it  kindled  anew  the  flame 
of  the  imposture.  It  became  a  watchword  for  all 
Sabbatians,  enabling  them,  with  decency  and  a  show 
of  reason,  to  profess  themselves  believers,  and  hold 

Nathan  Ghazati  also  caught  up  this  idea,  and  was 
encouraged  to  resume  his  part  as  prophet.  He  had 
fared  badly  so  far  ;  he  had  been  obliged  secretly  to 
leave  Smyrna,  where  he  had  been  in  hiding  several 
months  (end  of  April,  1667).  His  followers,  con- 
sisting of  more  than  thirty  men,  were  dispersed. 
But  by  this  new  imposture  he  recovered  courage, 
and  approached  Adrianople,  where  Mehmed  Effendi 
presided,  attended  by  several  of  his  adherents,  who 
as  pretended  Mahometans  lived  and  made  fantastic 
plans  with  him.  The  representatives  of  the  Jewish 
community  at  Constantinople  and  Adrianople 
rightly  feared  fresh  disturbances  from  the  presence 
of  the  false  prophet,  and  desired  to  get  rid  of  him. 
Nathan  Ghazati,  however,  relied  on  his  prophecy, 
which  might  possibly,  he  said,  be  fulfilled  at  the  end 
of  the  year.  He  expected  the  Holy  Spirit  to  de- 
scend upon  the  renegade  Mehmed  on  the  Feast  of 


Weeks  (Pentecost),  and  then  he  also  would  be  able 
to  show  signs  and  wonders.  Until  then,  he  defiantly 
replied  to  the  deputies,  he  could  entertain  no  pro- 
positions. When  the  Feast  of  Weeks  was  over, 
the  people  of  Adrianople  again  urged  him  to  cease 
from  his  juggleries.  After  much  labor  they  obtained 
only  a  written  promise  to  keep  at  a  distance  of 
twelve  days'  journey  from  the  city,  not  to  corres- 
pond with  Sabbatai,  not  to  assemble  people  round 
him,  and  if  by  the  end  of  the  year  the  Redeemer  did 
not  appear,  to  consider  his  prophecies  false.  In 
spite  of  his  written  promise,  this  lying  prophet  con- 
tinued his  agitation,  and  admonished  the  Sabbatians 
in  Adrianople  to  make  known  their  continued  ad- 
hesion by  the  suspension  of  the  fast  on  the  i  7th  of 
Tammuz.  In  this  city  there  was  a  Sabbatian  con- 
venticle under  the  leadership  of  a  former  disciple, 
who  stood  in  close  connection  with  Mehmed  Effendi. 
The  rabbinate  of  Adrianople  did  not  know  how  to 
check  the  mischievous  course  of  this  darinor  sect, 


and  were  obliged  to  have  recourse  to  falsehood. 
They  announced  that  the  renegade  had  suddenly 
appeared  before  the  Jewish  communal  council,  had 
repented  of  his  imposture,  and  laid  the  blame  on 
Nathan  and  Abraham  Yachini,  who  had  made  him 
their  dupe.  In  this  way  the  rabbinate  succeeded  in 
deceiving  the  Sabbatians.  The  effect  did  not  last 
long.  Nathan  on  the  one  hand,  and  Mehmed 
Effendi's  circle  on  the  other,  awakened  new  hope, 
the  number  of  believers  again  increased,  and  they 
made  a  special  point  of  not  fasting  on  the  Qth  of  Ab, 
the  birthday  of  their  Messiah.  The  rabbinates  of 
Constantinople  and  Smyrna  sought  to  repress  this 
imposture  by  the  old  means — excommunication  and 
threats  of  punishment  (end  of  July) — but  with  little 
success.  The  Sabbatians  had  a  sort  of  hankering 
after  martyrdom  in  order  to  seal  their  faith.  The 
false  prophet  renewed  his  propagandism.  He  still 
had  some  followers,  including  two  Mahometans. 

I6O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

At  Salonica,  the  home  of  a  swarm  of  Kabbalists,  he 
fared  badly.  The  more  easily  did  he  find  a  hearing 
in  the  communities  of  the  islands  of  Chios  and  Corfu. 
His  hopes  were  however  directed  principally  to 

Here  also  confusion  continued  to  reign.    The  first 
news    of  Sabbatai's    defection   had  not  been  con- 
firmed, as  in  consequence  of  the  war  in  Crete  the 
ships  of  the  Christians  had  been  captured  by  the 
Turks.    Thus  the  Sabbatians  were  left  free  to  main- 
tain their  faith  and  denounce  the  report  as  false,  es- 
pecially as  encouraging  letters  arrived  from  Raphael 
Joseph  Chelebi  of  Cairo  and  others.     The  most  ab- 
surd stories  of  Sabbatai's  power  and  dignity  at  the 
Porte  were  published  in  Italy,  and  found  credence. 
Moses  Pinheiro,  Sabbatai's  old  companion,  Raphael 
Sofino  at  Leghorn,  and   the  Amsterdam    fanatics, 
Isaac  Naar  and  Abraham  Pereira,  who  had  gone  to 
Italy  to  search  for  the  Messiah,  had  a  special  inter- 
est in  clinging  to  straws  ;    they  feared  ridicule  as 
dupes.     The   ignorant   mountebank   and    strolling 
prophet,  Sabbatai  Raphael,  from  the  Morea,  then 
residing  in  Italy,  was  bent  upon  deception  and  fraud, 
and  appears  to  have  reaped  a  good  harvest  there. 
When  at  last  there  could  be  no  doubt  of  Sabbatai's 
change  of  religion,  Raphael  turned  his  steps  to  Ger- 
many, where,  on  account  of  defective  postal  arrange- 
ments and  the  slight  intercourse  of  Jews  with  the 
outer  world-  they  had   only  a  vague    idea    of  the 
course  of  events,  and  took  the  most  foolish  stories 
for  truth.     Sabbatai  Raphael  was  there  regarded  as 
a  prophet ;  but,  as  he  expected  greater  gain  from 
the  rich  Amsterdam  community,  he  betook  himself 
thither  (September,  1667).     Here  also  the  impost- 
ure   continued.     Ashamed   that    they,   the    shrewd 
and  educated  Portuguese,  should  have  been  so  sig- 
nally deceived,  they  at  first  placed  no  faith  in  the 
news    of    Sabbatai's    treachery.     Even    the    rabbis 
Isaac  Aboab,   Raphael  Moses   d'Aguilar,  and   the 

CH.   IV.  NATHAN    GHAZATI    IN    ITALY.  l6l 

philosophical  sceptic  Musaphia,  remained  staunch. 
Justly  Jacob  Sasportas  laughed  them  to  scorn,  es- 
pecially Musaphia,  on  account  of  his  present  un- 
shaken faith  as  contrasted  with  his  former  in- 

Meanwhile  Nathan  Ghazati,  the  prophet  of  Gaza, 
was  pursuing  his  mischievous  course  in  Italy.  Com- 
ing from  Greece,  he  landed  at  Venice  (end  of 
March,  1668),  but  the  rabbinate  and  the  council,  who 
had  had  warning  of  him,  would  not  allow  him  to  en- 
ter the  Ghetto.  A  Sabbatian  interceded  for  him 
with  some  Christians  of  rank,  and  under  such  pro- 
tection he  could  not  be  expelled.  To  cure  those 
who  had  shared  in  the  delusion,  the  rabbinate  wrung 
from  him  a  written  confession,  that  his  prophecies 
of  Sabbatai  Zevi's  Messiahship  rested  on  a  freak  of 
his  imagination,  that  he  recognized  them  as  such, 
and  held  them  to  be  idle.  This  confession  was 
printed  with  an  introduction  by  the  rabbinate  of 
Venice,  in  order  at  last  to  open  the  eyes  of  the  Sab- 
batians  in  Italy.  But  it  was  not  of  much  avail.  The 
delusion,  resting  as  it  did  on  the  Kabbala,  was  too 
deeply  rooted.  From  Venice  Ghazati  was  sent  to 
Leghorn,  with  the  suggestion  to  render  him  innocu- 
ous there,  where  Jews  enjoyed  more  freedom  ;  but 
Nathan  Ghazati  secretly  escaped  to  Rome,  cut  off 
his  beard,  disguised  himself,  and  is  said  to  have 
thrown  notes  written  in  Chaldee  into  the  Tiber,  to 
bring  about  the  destruction  of  Rome.  The  Jews 
recognized  him,  and,  since  they  feared  danger  for 
themselves  on  papal  soil  from  his  fraudulent  absurd- 
ities, they  procured  his  banishment.  Then  he  went 
to  Leghorn,  and  found  followers  there  also.  Prom- 
ising himself  more  honor  and  profit  in  Turkey,  or 
more  opportunity  to  satisfy  his  restless  mind, 
Nathan  returned  to  Adrianople.  He  did  not  pay 
great  regard  to  word  and  oath.  Nathan  Ghazati 
compiled  much  Kabbalistic  nonsense,  but  acquired 
no  fame.  He  is  said  to  have  died  at  Sophia,  and 

762  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

to  have  been  laid  in  a  vault  dug  by  himself  (1680). 
Other  men  appeared  at  the  head  of  the  Sabbatians 
who  far  surpassed  him,  and  pursued  a  definite  end. 
•  Sabbatai,  or  Mehmed  Effendi,  at  this  time  began 
his  revolutionary  chimeras  afresh.  Immediately  af- 
ter his  apostasy  he  was  obliged,  under  the  direction 
of  the  mufti  Vanni,  to  acquire  Mahometan  ways,  and 
guard  carefully  against  any  appearance  of  inclina- 
tion to  Judaism  and  the  Jews.  He  therefore  figured 
as  a  pious  Mahometan.  Gradually  he  was  permit- 
ted greater  freedom,  and  to  give  utterance  to  his 
Kabbalistic  views  about  God  and  the  universe. 
Vanni,  to  whom  much  was  new,  heard  his  expositions 
with  curiosity,  and  the  sultan  also  is  said  to  have 
listened  to  his  words  attentively.  Probably  Sab- 
batai won  over  some  Mahometans  to  his  Kabbalis- 
tic dreams.  Weary  of  quiet,  and  anxious  to  play 
an  active  part  again,  he  once  more  entered  into  close 
relations  with  Jews,  and  gave  out  that  he  had  been 
filled  anew  with  the  Holy  Spirit  at  Passover  (end 
of  March,  1 668),  and  had  received  revelations.  Sab- 
bacai,  or  one  of  his  aiders  and  abettors,  published  a 
mystical  work  ("  Five  Evidences  of  the  Faith,"  Saha- 
duta  di  Mehemnuta)  addressed  to  the  Jews  and 
couched  in  extravagant  language,  in  which  the  fol- 
lowing fantastic  views  were  set  forth  :  Sabbatai  had 
been  and  remained  the  true  Redeemer ;  it  would 
be  easy  to  prove  himself  such,  if  he  had  not  compas- 
sion on  Israel,  who  would  have  to  experience  the 
same  dreadful  sufferings  as  the  Messiah ;  and  he 
only  persisted  in  Mahometanism  in  order  to  bring 
thousands  and  tens  of  thousands  of  non-Jews  over 
to  Israel.  To  the  sultan  and  the  mufti,  on  the  other 
hand,  he  said  that  his  approximation  to  the  Jews 
was  intended  to  bring  them  over  to  Islam.  He  re- 
ceived permission  to  associate  with  Jews,  and  to 
preach  before  them  at  Adrianople,  even  in  syna- 
gogues. Thus  he  played  the  part  of  Jew  at  one 
time,  of  Mussulman  at  another.  If  Turkish  spies 


were  present,  his  Jewish  hearers  knew  how  to  de- 
ceive them.  They  threw  away  their  Jewish  head- 
dress, and  put  on  the  turban.  It  is  probable  that 
many  Jews  were  seriously  converted  to  Islam,  and 
a  Jewish-Turkish  sect  thus  began  to  form  round 
Sabbatai  Zevi.  The  Jews  who  had  hitherto  felt  such 
horror  of  apostatizing,  that  only  the  outcasts 
amongst  them  went  over  to  Christianity  or  Islam, 
became  less  severe.  They  said  without  indignation 
that  so  and  so  had  adopted  the  turban.  Through 
such  jugglery  Sabbatians  at  Adrianople,  Smyrna, 
Salonica,  and  other  cities,  even  in  Palestine,  allowed 
themselves  to  be  confirmed  in  their  obstinate  faith 
in  the  Messiah.  Even  pious  men,  learned  in  the 
Talmud,  continued  to  adhere  to  him. 

As  though  this  complication  were  to  become  more 
involved,  and  the  Kabbalistic-Messianic  disorder 
were  to  be  pursued  to  its  utmost  limits,  a  Sabbatian 
champion  unexpectedly  appeared  in  a  man  of  Euro- 
pean culture,  not  wanting  in  gifts,  Abraham  Michael 
Cardoso.  He  was  an  original  character,  a  living 
personification  of  the  transformation  of  the  Portu- 
guese Jews  after  their  expulsion.  Born  of  Marrano 
parents  in  a  small  town  of  Portugal,  Celarico,  in  the 
province  of  Beira,  Miguel  Cardoso,  like  his  elder 
brother  Fernando,  studied  medicine.  While  the 
latter  devoted  himself  earnestly  to  science,  Miguel 
dawdled  away  his  days  amidst  the  luxury  of  Madrid, 
sang  love-songs  with  the  guitar  under  the  balconies 
of  fair  ladies,  and  paid  very  little  heed  to  Kabbala 
or  Judaism.  What  influenced  him  to  leave  Spain 
is  not  known.  Perhaps  his  more  serious  and 
thoughtful  brother,  who,  after  making  a  name  in 
Spain  as  a  medical  and  scientific  author,  out  of  love 
to  Judaism  migrated  to  Venice,  where  he  plunged 
deeply  into  Jewish  literature,  infected  him  with  en- 
thusiasm. Both  brothers  assumed  Jewish  names 
after  their  return  to  the  religion  of  their  forefathers. 
The  elder,  Isaac  Cardoso,  gave  up  his  name  Fer- 

164  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IV. 

nanclo  ;  the  younger  took  the  name  of  Abraham  in 
addition  to  that  of  Miguel  (Michael).  Both  com- 
posed verses  in  Spanish.  While  the  elder  brother 
led  a  regular  life,  guided  by  moral  principles  and  a 
rational  faith,  the  younger  fell  under  the  sway  of  ex- 
travagant fancy  and  an  eccentric  manner  of  living. 
Isaac  Cardoso  (born  1615,  died  after  1680)  con- 
ferred renown  on  Judaism,  while  Abraham  Michael 
Cardoso  (born  about  1630,  died  1706)  was  a  dis- 
grace to  it. 

The  latter  lived  as  a  physician  at  Leghorn,  but 
not  flourishing  he  accepted  the  position  of  physician 
in  ordinary  to  the  Bey  of  Tripoli.  His  warm- 
blooded, dissolute  nature  was  a  hindrance  to  his 
advancement.  Contrary  to  the  custom  of  African 
Jews,  he  married  two  wives,  and  instead  of  employ- 
ing himself  with  his  difficult  science,  he  revolved 
fantastical  schemes.  Cardoso  appears  to  have  been 
initiated  into  the  Kabbala  and  the  Sabbatian  delus- 
ion by  Moses  Pinheiro,  who  was  living  at  Leghorn. 

He  continually  had  dreams  and  visions,  which  in- 
creased in  frequency  after  the  public  appearance  of 
Sabbatai  at  Smyrna  and  Constantinople.  He  com- 
municated his  delusion  to  his  wives  and  domestics, 
who  likewise  pretended  to  have  seen  all  sorts  of  ap- 
paritions. The  apostasy  of  the  false  Messiah  from 
Judaism  did  not  cure  Cardoso  of  his  delusion  ;  he 
remained  a  zealous  partisan,  and  even  justified  the 
treachery  of  the  Messiah  by  saying  that  it  was  nec- 
essary for  him  to  be  counted  among  sinners,  in  or- 
der that  he  might  atone  for  Israel's  sin  of  idolatry, 
and  blot  it  out.  He  sent  circulars  in  all  directions, 
in  order  to  support  the  Messianic  claim  of  Sabbatai, 
and  figure  as  a  prophet.  In  vain  his  more  sober 
brother,  Isaac  Cardoso,  warned  and  ridiculed  him, 
asking  him  ironically,  whether  he  had  received  the 
gift  of  prophecy  from  his  former  gallantries  and 
from  playing  the  guitar  for  the  fair  maidens  of  Mad- 
rid. Abraham  Cardoso's  frivolity  was  in  no  way 


lessened,  he  even  assumed  a  didactic  tone  towards 
his  grave  elder  brother,  who  despised  the  Kabbala 
as  he  did  alchemy  and  astrology,  and  sent  him  num- 
berless proofs,  from  the  Zohar  and  other  Kabbalistic 
writings,  that  Sabbatai  was  the  true  Messiah,  and 
that  he  must  necessarily  be  estranged  from  Judaism. 
By  his  zeal  he  gained  many  adherents  for  the  Sab- 
batian  delusion  in  Africa;  but  he  also  made  enemies, 
and  incurred  dangers.  He  continued  to  prophesy 
the  speedy  commencement  of  the  Messiah's  reign, 
although  often  proved  false  by  reality.  He  put  off 
the  event  from  year  to  year,  performed  Kabbalistic 
tricks,  set  up  a  new  God  for  Israel,  and  at  last  de- 
clared himself  the  Messiah  of  the  house  of  Ephraim, 
until  he  was  rigorously  prosecuted  by  an  opponent 
of  these  vagaries.  Cardoso  was  driven  back  to  his 
former  uncomfortable  position,  forced  to  lead  an 
adventurer's  life,  and  win  bread  for  himself  and  his 
family,  so  to  speak,  by  his  delusions,  going  through 
all  sorts  of  jugglery,  at  Smyrna,  at  Constantinople, 
in  the  Greek  islands,  and  at  Cairo,  and  promoting 
the  Sabbatian  delusions  with  his  abundant  knowl- 
edge, eloquent  tongue,  and  ready  pen.  Thanks  to 
his  education  in  Christian  schools,  he  was  far  super- 
ior to  other  Sabbatian  apostles,  and  knew  how  to 
give  an  air  of  rationality  and  wisdom  to  nonsense, 
thus  completely  blinding  the  biased,  and  stultifying 
even  those  averse  to  the  Sabbatian  movement. 

Encouraged  by  the  support  of  the  Jews,  continued 
in  spite  of  his  change  of  religion,  Sabbatai  persisted 
in  keeping  up  his  character  as  Messiah,  and  asso- 
ciated more  and  more  with  Jews.  His  weak  brain 
had  been  turned  by  the  overwhelming  rush  of  events, 
and  he  completely  lost  balance.  At  one  time  he  re- 
viled Judaism  and  the  God  of  Israel  with  foul  words 
of  abuse,  and  is  said  even  to  have  informed  against 
Jews  as  blasphemers  of  Islam  before  Turkish  mag- 
istrates. At  other  times  he  held  divine  service  ac- 
cording to  the  Jewish  ritual  with  his  Jewish  follow- 

166  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  iv. 

ers,  sang"  psalms,  expounded  the  Zohar,  ordered 
selections  from  the  Torah  to  be  read  on  the  Sabbath, 
and  frequently  chose  seven  virgins  for  that  purpose. 
On  account  of  his  constant  intercourse  with  Jews, 
whom  he  was  not  able  to  bring  over  wholesale  to 
Mahometanism,  as  he  may  have  boastfully  asserted, 
Mehmed  Effendi  is  said  to  have  fallen  into  disfavor, 
forfeited  his  allowance  and  been  banished  from  Ad- 
rianople  to  Constantinople.  He  finally  married 
another  wife,  the  daughter  of  a  man  learned  in  the 
Talmud,  Joseph  Philosoph  of  Salonica.  The  Turk- 
ish patrol  having  surprised  him  in  a  village  (Kuru 
Gisme)  near  Constantinople,  while  singing  psalms 
in  a  tent  with  some  Jews,  and  the  Bostanji  Bashi 
(officer)  having  reported  it,  the  grand  vizir  com- 
manded the  Kaimakam  to  banish  him  to  Dulcigno, 
a  small  town  in  Albania,  where  no  Jews  dwelt. 
There  he  died,  abandoned  and  forsaken,  it  was 
afterwards  said,  on  the  Day  of  Atonement,  1676. 

Spinoza,  who  had  likewise  broken  away  from 
Judaism,  may  well  have  looked  with  great  contempt 
on  this  Messianic  craze  of  his  contemporaries.  If 
he  had  cared  to  dig  the  grave  of  Judaism  and  bury 
it,  he  would  have  been  obliged  to  recognize  Sab- 
batai  Zevi,  his  private  secretary,  Samuel  Primo,  and 
his  prophets,  as  allies  and  abettors.  The  irration- 
ality of  the  Kabbala  brought  Judaism  much  more 
effectually  into  discredit  than  reason  and  philosophy. 
It  is  a  remarkable  fact  that  neither  the  one  nor  the 
other  could  wean  the  numerous  cultured  Jews  of 
Amsterdam  from  the  religion  of  their  forefathers, 
so  strongly  was  it  rooted  in  their  hearts.  At  this 
time  when  two  forces  of  Jewish  origin  were  antago- 
nizing Judaism  in  the  East  and  the  West,  the  Portu- 
guese community,  increased  to  the  number  of  four 
thousand  families,  undertook  (1671)  the  building  of  a 
splendid  synagogue,  and  after  some  years  finished 
the  huge  work,  which  had  been  interrupted  by  war 
troubles.  The  dedication  of  the  synagogue  (Ab  10, 

CH.   IV.  DEATH    OF    SPINOZA.  1 67 

August  2,  1675),  was  celebrated  with  great  solem- 
nity and  pomp.  Neither  the  first  Temple  of  Solomon, 
nor  the  second  of  Zerubbabel,  nor  the  third  of 
Herod,  was  so  much  lauded  with  song  and  eloquent 
speech  as  the  new  one  at  Amsterdam,  called  Tal- 
mud Torah.  Copper-plate  engravings,  furnished 
with  inscriptions  in  verse,  were  published.  Chris- 
tians likewise  took  part  in  the  dedication.  They 
advanced  money  to  the  Jews  in  the  times  of  need, 
and  a  poet,  Romein  de  Hooghe,  composed  verses 
in  honor  of  the  synagogue  and  the  Jewish  people  in 
Latin,  Dutch,  and  French. 

Spinoza  lived  to  see  this  rejoicing  of  the  com- 
munity from  which  he  had  become  a  pervert.  He 
happened  to  be  at  Amsterdam  just  at  the  time. 
He  was  engaged  in  seeing  through  the  press  a 
treatise  (Ethics)  which  reversed  the  views  hitherto 
prevailing,  and  the  second,  enlarged  edition  of  his 
other  work,  chiefly  directed  against  Judaism.  He 
may  have  laughed  at  the  joy  of  the  Amsterdam  Jews, 
as  idle  ;  but  the  building  of  this  synagogue  in  a  city 
which  a  hundred  years  before  had  tolerated  no  Jews 
and  had  supported  a  Spanish  Inquisition,  was  loud 
testimony  of  the  times,  and  contradicted  many  of  his 
assertions.  He  died  not  long  afterwards,  or  rather, 
passed  gently  away  as  with  a  divine  kiss  (February 
21,  1677),  about  five  months  after  Sabbatai  Zevi. 
Against  his  will  he  has  contributed  to  the  glory  of 
the  race  which  he  so  unjustly  reviled.  His  power- 
ful intellect,  logical  acumen,  and  strength  of  character 
are  more  and  more  recognized  as  properties  which 
he  owed  to  the  race  from  which  he  was  descended. 
Among  educated  Jews,  Isaac  Orobio  de  Castro 
alone  attempted  a  serious  refutation  of  Spinoza's 
philosophical  views.  Though  his  intention  was  good, 
he  was  too  weak  to  break  through  the  close  meshes 
of  Spinoza's  system.  It  was  left  to  history  to  refute 
it  with  facts. 



Jews  under  Mahometan  Rulers — Expulsion  from  Vienna — Jews  ad- 
mitted by  Elector  Frederick  William  into  the  Mark  of  Branden- 
burg— Charge  of  Child-murder  in  Metz — Milder  Treatment  of 
Jews  throughout  Europe — Christian  Champions  of  the  Jews  : 
Jurieu,  Oliger  Pauli,  and  Moses  Germanus — Predilection  of 
Christians  for  the  Study  of  Jewish  Literature — Richard  Simon 
— Interest  taken  by  Charles  XI  in  the  Karaites — Peringer  and 
Jacob  Trigland  —  German  Attacks  on  Judaism  by  Wiilfer, 
Wagenseil,  and  Eisenmenger — Circumstances  of  the  Publication 
of  Judaism  Unmasked — The  Alenu  Prayer — Surenhuysius, 
Basnage,  Unger,  Wolf,  and  Toland. 

1669 — 1700  c.  E. 

THE  princes  and  nations  of  Europe  and  Asia 
showed  great  consideration  in  not  disturbing  the 
Messianic  farce  of  the  Jews,  who  were  quietly  al- 
lowed to  make  themselves  ridiculous.  A  pause  had 
come  in  the  constantly  recurring  persecution  of  the 
Jews,  which  did  not,  however,  last  very  long.  The 
regular  succession  of  accusations,  vexations,  and 
banishments  soon  re-commenced.  The  contrast 
between  the  followers  of  Mahomet  and  those  of 
Jesus  is  very  striking.  In  Turkey  the  Jews  were 
free  from  persecution,  in  spite  of  their  great  excite- 
ment, and  absurd  dreams  of  a  national  Messiah.  In 
Africa,  Sid  Gailand  and  later  Muley  Arshid,  sultan 
of  Tafilet,  Fez,  and  Morocco,  oppressed  the  Jews, 
partly  on  account  of  their  activity,  partly  from 
rapacity.  But  this  ceased  with  the  next  sovereign, 
Muley  Ismail.  He  was  a  patron  of  the  Jews,  and 
entrusted  several  with  important  posts.  He  had 
two  Jewish  advisers,  Daniel  Toledano  of  Miquenes, 
a  friend  of  Jacob  Sasportas,  a  Talmudist  and 
experienced  in  state  affairs,  and  Joseph  Maimaran, 
likewise  from  Miquenes. 


CH.  V.  THE    JEWS    OF    ORAN.  169 

Within  Christendom,  on  the  contrary,  Jews  were 
esteemed  and  treated  as  men  only  in  Holland  ;  in 
other  states  they  were  regarded  as  outcasts,  who 
had  no  rights,  and  no  claim  to  compassion.  Spain 
again  led  the  way  in  decreeing  banishments.  That 
unfortunate  country,  becoming  more  and  more  de- 
populated through  despotism,  superstition,  and  the 
Inquisition,  was  then  ruled  by  a  foolish,  fanatical 
woman,  the  dowager-regent  Maria  Anna  of  Austria, 
who  had  made  her  father-confessor,  the  German 
Jesuit  Neidhard,  inquisitor-general  and  minister 
with  unlimited  powers.  Naturally,  no  toleration 
of  other  religions  could  be  suffered  at  this  big- 
oted court.  There  were  still  Jews  in  some  parts 
of  the  monarchy,  in  the  north-western  corner  of 
Africa,  in  Oran,  Maxarquivir,  and  other  cities.  Many 
had  rendered  considerable  services  to  the  Spanish 
crown,  in  times  of  peace  and  war,  against  the  native 
Arabs,  or  Moors,  who  endured  with  inward  rage  the 
dominion  of  the  cross.  The  families  of  Cansino  and 
Sasportas,  the  former  royal  interpreters,  or  drago- 
mans, for  the  province  of  Oran,  had  distinguished 
themselves  especially  by  their  fidelity  and  devotion 
to  Spain  ;  and  their  conduct  had  been  recognized  by 
Philip  IV,  the  husband  of  Maria  Anna,  in  a  special 
letter.  Nevertheless,  the  queen-dowager  suddenly 
ordered  the  banishment  of  the  Jews  from  the  dis- 
trict, because  she  could  no  longer  tolerate  people 
of  this  race  in  her  realm.  At  the  urgent  request  of 
Jewish  grandees  the  governor  allowed  the  Jews 
eight  days'  grace  during  the  Passover,  and  admit- 
ted that  they  were  banished,  not  because  of  mis- 
conduct or  treason,  but  simply  on  account  of  the  re- 
gent's intolerance  (end  of  April,  1669).  They  were 
obliged  to  sell  their  possessions  in  haste  at  ridicu- 
lous prices.  The  exiles  settled  in  the  district  of 
Savoy,  at  Villafranca,  near  Nice. 

Like  mother,  like  daughter.     At  about  this  time 
the  banishment  of  Jews  from  Vienna  and  the  arch- 

I7O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

duchy  of  Austria  was  decreed  at  the  instigation  of 
the  daughter  of  the  Spanish  regent,  the  empress 
Margaret,  an  ally  of  the  Jesuits.  The  emperor  did 
not  easily  allow  himself  to  be  prejudiced  against 
Jews,  from  whom  he  derived  a  certain  revenue.  The 
community  of  Vienna  alone,  grown  to  nearly  two 
thousand  souls,  paid  a  yearly  tax  of  10,000,  and  the 
country  community  of  4,000,  florins.  Including  the 
income  from  Jews  in  other  places,  the  emperor  re- 
ceived from  them  50,000  florins  annually.  But  an  em- 
press need  not  trouble  herself  about  finance;  she  can 
follow  the  inclinations  of  her  heart,  and  Margaret's 
heart,  filled  with  Jesuitism,  hated  Jews  profoundly, 
and  her  father-confessor  strengthened  the  feeling. 
Having  met  with  an  accident  at  a  ball,  she  wished 
to  testify  her  gratitude  to  heaven  which  had  wonder- 
fully preserved  her,  and  could  find  no  means  more 
acceptable  to  God  than  the  misery  of  Jews.  More 
urgently  than  before  she  entreated  her  imperial  con- 
sort to  banish  from  the  capital  and  the  country  the 
Jews,  described  by  her  father-confessor  as  outcasts 
of  hell,  and  she  received  his  promise.  With  trumpet- 
sound  it  was  made  known  in  Vienna  (February  14, 
1670)  that  by  the  emperor's  command  the  Jews  were 
to  quit  the  city  within  a  few  months  on  pain  of  death. 
They  left  no  measure  untried  to  avert  the  stroke. 
Often  before  had  similar  resolutions  been  recalled 
by  Austrian  emperors.  The  Jews  cited  the  privi- 
leges accorded  them  in  writing,  and  the  services 
which  they  had  rendered  the  imperial  house.  They 
offered  large  sums  of  money  (there  were  very  rich 
court  Jews  at  Vienna),  used  the  influence  of  persons 
connected  with  the  court,  and,  after  a  solemn  service 
in  honor  of  the  recovery  of  the  emperor  from  sick- 
ness, presented  him  as  he  left  the  church  with  a  large 
gold  cup,  and  the  empress  with  a  handsome  silver 
basin  and  jug.  The  presents  were  accepted,  but  the 
command  was  not  recalled. 

At  Vienna  and  at  the  court  there  was  no  prospect 


of  'a.  change  of  purpose  ;  the  Jesuits  had  the  upper 
hand  through  the  empress  and  her  confessor.  The 
community  of  Vienna  in  despair  thought  to  avert 
the  evil  by  another,  roundabout  course.  The  Jews 
of  Germany  had  felt  sincere  sympathy  for  their 
brethren,  and  had  implored  heaven  by  prayer  and 
fasting  to  save  them.  The  Jews  of  Vienna  could 
count  confidently  upon  their  zeal.  Therefore,  in  a 
pitiful  letter  to  the  most  influential  and  perhaps  the 
richest  Jew  of  that  time,  Isaac  (Manoel)  Texeira,  the 
esteemed  agent  of  Queen  Christina,  they  begged 
him  to  exert  his  influence  with  temporal  and  church 
princes,  through  them  to  make  Empress  Margaret 
change  her  mind.  Texeira  had  previously  taken 
active  steps  in  that  direction,  and  he  promised  to 
continue  them.  He  had  written  to  some  Spanish 
grandees  with  whom  he  stood  in  close  connection  to 
use  their  influence  with  the  empress's  confessor. 
The  queen  of  Sweden,  who,  after  her  romantic  con- 
version to  Catholicism,  enjoyed  great  esteem  in  the 
Catholic  world,  led  Texeira  to  hope  that,  by  letters 
addressed  to  the  papal  nuncio,  to  the  empress,  and 
to  her  mother,  the  Spanish  regent,  she  might  pre- 
vent the  banishment  of  the  Austrian  Jews.  The 
Jews  of  Rome  also  did  their  part  to  save  their 
threatened  brethren.  But  all  these  efforts  led  to 
nothing.  Unhappily  there  had  just  been  a  papal 
election  at  Rome  after  the  death  of  Clement  IX,  so 
that  the  head  of  the  church,  though  Jews  were  toler- 
ated in  his  states,  could  not  be  prevailed  upon  to 
assume  a  decided  attitude.  Emperor  Leopold  re- 
mained firm,  and  disposed  of  the  houses  of  the  Jews 
before  they  had  left  them.  He  was  only  humane 
enough  to  order,  under  pain  of  severe  punishment, 
that  no  harm  be  done  to  the  departing  Jews. 

So  the  Jews  had  to  submit  to  the  iron  will  of  nec- 
essity, and  grasp  their  pilgrims'  staffs.  When  1,400 
souls  had  fallen  into  distress,  or  at  least  into  an 
anxious  plight,  and  many  had  succumbed,  the  re- 

HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

mainder,  more  than  three  hundred,  again  petitioned 
the  emperor,  recounting  the  services  of  Jews  to  the 
imperial  house,  and  showing  all  the  accusations 
against  them  to  be  groundless,  at  all  events  not 
proven.  They  did  not  shrink  from  declaring  that 
to  be  a  Jew  could  not  be  called  a  crime,  and  pro- 
tested that  they  ought  to  be  treated  as  Roman  cit- 
izens, who  ought  not  to  be  summarily  expelled. 
They  begged  at  least  for  a  respite  until  the  next 
meeting  of  the  Reichstag.  Even  this  petition,  in 
which  they  referred  to  the  difficulty  of  finding  a  ref- 
uge, if  the  emperor,  the  ruler  of  half  of  Europe, 
rejected  them,  remained  without  effect.  All  had  to 
depart ;  only  one  family,  that  of  the  court  factor, 
Marcus  Schlesinger  Jaffa,  was  allowed  to  remain  in 
Vienna,  on  account  of  services  rendered.  The 
Jesuits  were  full  of  joy,  and  proclaimed  the  praise 
of  God  in  a  gradual.  The  magistrates  bought  the 
Jews'  quarter  from  the  emperor  for  100,000  florins, 
and  called  it  Leopoldstadt  in  his  honor.  The  site 
of  the  synagogue  was  used  for  a  church,  of  which 
the  emperor  laid  the  corner-stone  (August  18,  1670) 
in  honor  of  his  patron  saint.  A  golden  tablet  was 
to  perpetuate  the  shameful  deeds  of  the  Jews  : 

"  After  the  Jews  were  banished,  the  emperor  caused  their  syna- 
gogue, which  had  been  as  a  charnel-house,  to  be  made  into  a  house 
of  God." 

The  tablet,  however,  only  proves  the  mental 
weakness  of  the  emperor  and  his  people.  The  Tal- 
mud school  (Beth  ha-Midrash)  was  likewise  con- 
verted into  a  church,  and  named  in  honor  of  the 
empress  and  her  patron  saint. 

But  this  dark  picture  had  also  its  bright  side.  A 
struggling  state,  which  hitherto  had  not  tolerated 
the  Jews,  now  became  a  new,  though  not  very  hos- 
pitable, home,  where  the  Jewish  race  was  rejuvena- 
ted. The  Austrian  exiles  dispersed  in  various 
directions.  Many  sought  protection  in  Moravia, 

CH.   V.  JEWS    IN    BRANDENBURG.  173 

Bohemia,  and  Poland.  Others  went  to  Venice  and  as 
far  as  the  Turkish  frontiers,  others  turned  to  Furth, 
in  Bavaria.  Fifty  families  were  received  by  Elector 
Frederick  William,  in  the  Mark  of  Brandenburg. 
This  great  prince,  who  laid  the  solid  foundation  for 
the  future  greatness  of  the  Prussian  monarchy,  was 
not  more  tolerant  than  other  princes  of  Louis  XIV's 
century  ;  but  he  was  more  clear-sighted  than  Em- 
peror Leopold,  and  recognized  that  a  sound  state 
of  finances  is  essential  to  the  prosperity  of  a  state, 
and  that  Jews  retained  somewhat  of  their  old  renown 
as  financiers.  In  the  Mark  of  Brandenburg  no  Jew 
had  been  allowed  to  dwell  for  a  hundred  years,  since 
their  expulsion  under  Elector  John  George.  Fred- 
erick William  himself  took  the  step  so  difficult  for 
many;  he  wrote  (April,  1670)  to  his  ambassador, 
Andrew  Neumann,  at  Vienna,  that  he  was  inclined 
to  receive  into  the  electoral  Mark  from  forty  to  fifty 
prosperous  Jewish  families  of  the  exiles  from  Vienna 
under  certain  conditions  and  limitations.  The  con- 
ditions, made  known  a  year  later,  proved  in  many 
points  very  harsh,  but  were  more  favorable  than  in 
other  Protestant  countries,  as,  for  instance,  in  the 
bigoted  city  of  Hamburg.  The  Jews  might  settle 
where  they  pleased  in  Brandenburg  and  in  the  duchy 
of  Crossen,  and  might  trade  everywhere  without 
hindrance.  The  burgomasters  were  directed  to 
place  no  impediment  in  the  way  of  their  settlement 
and  not  to  molest  them.  Every  family  had  to  pay 
eight  thalers  a  year  as  a  protective  tax,  a  gold  florin 
for  every  marriage,  and  the  same  for  every  funeral  ; 
on  the  other  hand,  they  were  freed  from  the  poll-tax 
throughout  the  country.  They  might  buy  and  build 
houses,  on  condition  that  after  the  expiration  of  a 
term  they  sell  them  to  Christians.  They  were  not 
permitted  to  have  synagogues,  but  could  have 
prayer-rooms,  and  appoint  a  school-master  and  a 
butcher  (Shochet).  This  charter  of  protection  was 
valid  for  only  twenty  years,  but  a  prospect  was  held 

HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

out  that  it  would  be  prolonged  by  the  elector  or  his 
successor.  Of  these  fifty  Austrian  families,  some 
seven  settled  in  Berlin,  and  formed  the  foundation 
of  the  community  afterwards  so  large  and  influential. 
One  step  led  to  another.  Frederick  William  also 
admitted  rich  Jews  from  Hamburg,  Glogau,  and 
other  cities,  and  thus  communities  sprang  up  at 
Landsbenj  and  Frankfort-on-the-Oder. 


It  is  evident  that  Frederick  William  admitted  the 
Jews  purely  from  financial  considerations.  But  he 
occasionally  showed  unselfish  good-will  towards 
some.  When  he  agreed  to  the  quixotic  plan  of 
Skytte,  a  Swedish  royal  councilor,  to  found,  at  Tan- 
germiinde  in  the  Mark,  a  university  for  all  sciences 
and  an  asylum  for  persecuted  savants,  he  did  not 
fail,  according  to  his  programme,  to  admit  into  this 
Athens  of  the  Mark,  Jewish  men  of  learning,  as  well 
as  Arabs  and  unbelievers  of  every  kind,  but  on  con- 
dition that  they  should  keep  their  errors  to  them- 
selves, and  not  spread  them  abroad. 

At  another  spot  in  Christian  Europe  a  few  rays 
of  light  pierced  the  darkness.  About  the  same  time 
that  the  Jews  were  expelled  from  Vienna,  a  false  ac- 
cusation, which  might  have  had  far-reaching  conse- 
quences, cropped  up  against  the  Jews  of  a  city  re- 
cently brought  under  French  rule.  In  Metz,  a  con- 
siderable community  had  developed  in  the  course 
of  a  century  from  four  Jewish  families,  and  had  ap- 
pointed its  own  rabbi  since  the  beginning  of  the 
seventeenth  century.  The  Jews  of  Metz  behaved 
so  well  that  King  Louis  XIV  publicly  declared  his 
satisfaction  with  them,  and  renewed  their  privileges. 
But  as  Metz  at  that  time  still  had  a  German  popu- 
lation, narrow  guilds  continued  to  exist,  and  these 
insisted  upon  limiting  the  Jews  in  their  occupations. 
Thwarted  by  the  magistrates,  some  of  them  roused 
in  the  populace  a  burning  hatred  of  the  Jews.  A 
peasant  had  lost  a  child,  and  the  news  was  quickly 
spread  that  the  Jews  had  killed  it  to  practice  sorcery 

CH.   V.  FALSE    ACCUSATIONS    IN    METZ.  1/5 

with  its  flesh.  The  accusation  was  brought  specifically 
against  a  peddler,  Raphael  Levi.  Scraps  of  paper 
with  Hebrew  letters,  written  by  him  during  his  im- 
prisonment, served  as  proofs  of  his  guilt.  A  bap- 
tized Jew,  Paul  du  Vallie  (Vallier,  formerly  Isaac), 
son  of  a  famous  physician  in  that  district,  with  the 
aid  of  another  Jewish  convert,  translated  the  scraps 
to  the  disadvantage  of  the  accused. 

Du  Vallie  had  literally  been  decoyed  into  Chris- 
tianity, and  changed  into  a  bitter  enemy  of  his 
former  co-religionists.  He  had  been  a  good  son, 
adored  by  his  parents.  He  had  also  been  a  pious 
Jew,  and  had  declared  to  two  tempters  who  had 
tried  to  influence  him  to  apostatize  from  Judaism 
that  he  would  sooner  be  burned.  Nevertheless,  the 
priests  continued  their  efforts  until  they  induced  him 
to  accept  Christianity.  The  news  of  his  baptism 
broke  the  heart  of  his  mother,  Antoinette.  A  touch- 
ing letter  to  her  son,  in  French,  is  still  extant,  in 
which  she  entreats  him  to  return  to  Judaism.  Du 
Vallie  however  refused,  and  proved  himself  besides 
to  be  a  bad  man  and  a  traitor.  He  brought  false 
evidence  against  the  poor  accused  Jew.  Accord- 
ingly, Raphael  Levi  was  stretched  on  the  rack,  and, 
though  he  maintained  his  innocence  in  the  tone  of 
convincing  truth,  he  was  condemned  by  the  Metz 
parliament,  and  put  to  death  with  torture,  which  he 
resolutely  bore  (January,  1670).  The  parliament 
intended  to  continue  the  persecution.  The  enemies 
of  the  Jews,  moreover,  caused  a  document  on  the 
subject  to  be  printed  and  widely  circulated,  in  order 
to  produce  the  proper  effect.  But  the  Metz  com- 
munity found  a  supporter  in  a  zealous  fellow-believer, 
Jonah  Salvador,  a  tobacco  dealer,  of  Pignerol.  He 
was  learned  in  the  Talmud,  and  a  follower  of  Sab- 
batai  Zevi.  Richard  Simon,  an  eager  student, 
sought  him  out  in  order  to  study  Hebrew  under  his 
guidance.  Jonah  Salvador  managed  to  interest  this 
Father  of  the  Oratory  in  the  Metz  community,  and 

HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

inspired  him  to  draw  up  a  vindication  of  the  Jews 
respecting"  child-murder.  The  tobacco  merchant  of 
Pignerol  delivered  this  document  to  persons  at  court 
whose  word  had  weight,  and  this  turned  the  scale. 
The  king's  council  ordered  the  records  of  the  Metz 
parliament  to  be  sent  in,  and  decided  (end  of  1671) 
that  judicial  murder  had  been  committed  in  the  case 
of  Raphael  Levi.  Louis  XIV  ordered  that  hence- 
forth criminal  charges  against  Jews  be  brought  be- 
fore the  king's  council. 

Inhuman  treatment  of  Jews,  banishment,  false  ac- 
cusations against  them,  and  massacres  did  not  actu- 
ally cease,  but  their  number  and  extent  diminished. 
This  phenomenon  was  a  consequence  of  the  increas- 
ing civilization  of  the  European  capitals,  but  a  grow- 
ing predilection  for  the  Jews  and  their  brilliant  liter- 
ature had  a  share  in  their  improved  treatment.  Ed- 
ucated Christians,  Catholics  as  well  as  Protestants, 
and  sober,  unbiased  men,  whose  judgment  had 
weight,  began  to  be  astonished  at  the  continued 
existence  of  this  people.  How  was  it  that  a  people, 
persecuted  for  ten  centuries  and  more,  trampled 
under  foot,  and  treated  like  a  pack  of  venomous  or 
noisome  beasts — a  people  without  a  home,  whom  all 
the  world  treated  roughly — how  was  it  that  this 
people  still  existed — not  only  existed,  but  formed  a 
compact  body,  separate  from  other  peoples,  even  in 
its  subjection  too  proud  to  mingle  with  more  power- 
ful nations  ?  Numerous  writers  appeared  as  apol- 
ogists for  the  Jews,  urging  their  milder  treatment, 
and  appealing  earnestly  to  Christians  not  to  destroy 
or  disfigure  this  living  marvel.  Many  went  very  far 
in  their  enthusiasm  for  the  Jews.  The  Huguenot 
preacher,  Pierre  Jurieu,  at  Rotterdam,  wrote  a  book 
(1685)  on  "The  Fulfillment  of  Prophecy,"  in  which 
he  expounded  the  future  greatness  of  the  Jews  as 
certain — that  God  had  kept  this  nation  for  Himself 
in  order  to  do  great  wonders  for  it :  the  true  Anti- 
christ was  the  persecution  of  Jews.  A  Dane,  Oliger 

CH.   V.  OLIGER    FAULT.  177 

(Holger)  Pauli,  displayed  over-zealous  activity  for 
the  return  of  the  Jewish  people  to  their  former 
country.  As  a  youth,  he  had  had  visions  of  the 
coming-  greatness  of  Israel,  in  which  he  also  was  to 
play  a  part.  Oliger  Pauli  was  so  fond  of  the  Jewish 
race  that,  although  descended  from  Christian  an- 
cestors of  noble  rank,  he  always  gave  out  that  he 
had  sprung  from  Jewish  stock.  He  had  amassed 
millions  as  a  merchant,  and  spent  them  lavishly  on 
his  hobby,  the  return  of  the  Jews  to  Palestine.  He 
sent  mystical  letters  to  King  William  III  of  England 
and  the  dauphin  of  France  to  induce  them  to  under- 
take the  assembling  and  restoration  of  the  Jews.  To 
the  dauphin  the  Danish  enthusiast  plainly  declared 
that  by  zeal  for  the  Jews,  France  might  atone  for 
her  bloody  massacre  of  St.  Bartholomew  and  the 
dragonnades.  John  Peter  Speeth  of  Augsburg, 
born  of  Catholic  parents  at  Vienna,  went  still  farther 
in  his  enthusiasm  for  Jews  and  Judaism.  After 
writing  a  pamphlet  in  honor  of  Catholicism,  he  went 
over  to  the  Socinians  and  Mennonites,  and  at  last 
became  a  Jew  at  Amsterdam,  and  took  the  name  of 
Moses  Germanus  (died  April  17,  1702).  He  con- 
fessed that  precisely  the  false  accusations  against 
Jews  had  inspired  him  with  disgust  for  Christianity. 

"  Even  at  the  present  time  much  of  the  same  sort  of  thing  happens 
in  Poland  and  Germany,  where  circumstantial  tales  are  told  and  songs 
sung  in  the  streets,  how  the  Jews  have  murdered  a  child,  and  sent  the 
blood  to  one  another  in  quills  for  the  use  of  their  women  in  childbirth. 
I  have  discovered  this  outrageous  fraud  in  time,  and  abandoned  Chris- 
tianity, which  can  permit  such  things,  in  order  to  have  no  share  in  it, 
nor  be  found  with  those  who  trample  under  foot  Israel,  the  first  begot- 
ten Son  of  God,  and  shed  his  blood  like  water." 

Moses  Germanus  was  Paul  reversed.  The  latter 
as  a  Christian,  became  a  zealous  despiser  of  Juda- 
ism ;  the  former,  as  a  Jew,  an  equally  fanatical  op- 
ponent of  Christianity.  He  regarded  its  origin  as 
gross  fraud.  One  cannot  even  now  write  all  that 
Moses  Germanus  uttered  about  the  teaching  of 
Jesus.  He  was  not  the  only  Christian  who  at  this 

178  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

time  "from  love  for  Judaism"  exposed  himself  to 
the  painful  operation  and  still  keener  shame  and 
reproach  of  circumcision.  In  one  year  three  Chris- 
tians, in  free  Amsterdam  to  be  sure,  went  over  to 
Judaism,  amongst  them  a  student  from  Prague. 

Even  more  than  the  anticipated  greatness  of  Is- 
rael, Jewish  literature  attracted  learned  Christians, 
and  inspired  them  with  a  sort  of  sympathy  for  the 
people  out  of  whose  mine  such  treasures  came. 
The  Hebrew  language  was  studied  by  Christians 
even  more  than  in  the  beginning  of  the  seventeenth 
century.  In  the  middle  and  towards  the  close  of 
that  century  Hebrew  Rabbinical  literature  was  most 
eagerly  searched,  translated  into  Latin  or  modern 
languages,  quoted,  utilized,  and  applied.  "Jewish 
learning"  was,  not  as  before  a  mere  ornament,  but 
an  indispensable  element,  of  learning.  It  was  re- 
garded as  a  disgrace  for  Catholic  and  Protestant 
theologians  to  be  ignorant  of  Rabbinical  lore,  and 
the  ignorant  could  defend  themselves  only  by  abus- 
ing these  Hebraists  as  semi-rabbis. 

The  first  Catholic  critic,  Father  Richard  Simon, 
of  the  congregation  of  the  Oratory  at  Paris,  con- 
tributed very  much  to  the  high  esteem  in  which  the 
Jews  and  their  literature  were  held.  This  man,  who 
laid  the  foundation  of  a  scientific,  philological,  and 
exegetical  study  of  the  Old  and  New  Testament,  in- 
vestigated Jewish  writings  with  great  zeal,  and  uti- 
lized them  for  his  purpose.  He  was  gifted  with  a 
keen  understanding,  which  unconsciously  led  him 
beyond  the  limits  of  Catholic  doctrine.  Spinoza's 
criticism  of  the  Bible  induced  him  to  make  original 
inquiries,  and  since,  as  a  genuine  Frenchman,  he 
was  endowed  with  sound  sense  rather  than  meta- 
physical imagination,  he  was  more  successful,  and 
his  method  is  thoroughly  scientific.  Richard  Simon 
was  disgusted  with  the  biblical  exegesis  of  the  Prot- 
estants, who  were  wont  to  support  their  wisdom  and 
their  stupidity  with  verses  of  Holy  Scripture.  He 

CH.   V.  RICHARD    SIMON.  179 

undertook,  therefore,  to  prove  that  the  biblical 
knowledge  and  biblical  exegesis  of  the  Protestant 
church,  on  which  it  prided  itself  before  Catholics  and 
Jews,  was  mere  mist  and  error,  because  it  mistook 
the  sense  of  the  original  text,  and  had  no  conception 
of  the  historical  background,  the  coloring  of  time  and 
place,  of  the  books  of  the  Bible,  and  in  this  ignor- 
ance multiplied  absurd  dogmas. 

"  You  Protestants  appeal  to  the  pure  word  of  God  to  do  battle 
against  the  Catholic  tradition  ;  I  intend  to  withdraw  the  ground  from 
under  you,  and  to  leave  you,  so  to  speak,  with  your  legs  dangling  in 
the  air." 

Richard  Simon  was  the  predecessor  of  Reimarus 
and  David  Strauss.  The  Catholics  applauded  him 
— even  the  mild  Bishop  Bossuet,  who  at  first  had 
opposed  him  from  conceit — not  dreaming  that  they 
were  nourishing  a  serpent  in  their  bosom.  In  his 
master-piece,  "  The  Critical  History  of  The  Old 
Testament,"  he  set  himself  to  prove  that  the  written 
word  in  no  way  suffices  for  faith.  Richard  Simon 
appreciated  with  a  master's  eye,  as  no  one  before 
him,  the  wide  extent  of  a  new  science — biblical  crit- 
icism. Although  he  criticised  freely,  he  proceeded 
apologetically,  vindicated  the  sacred  character  of  the 
Bible,  and  repelled  Spinoza's  attacks  upon  its  trust- 
worthiness. Richard  Simon's  writings,  which  were 
composed  not  in  Latin,  but  in  the  vernacular,  were 
marked  by  a  certain  elegance  of  style,  and  attracted 
well-deserved  attention.  They  form  an  agreeable 
contrast  to  the  chaos  of  oppressive  learning  of  the 
time,  and  have  an  insinuative  air  about  them. 
Hence  they  were  eagerly  read  by  the  educated 
classes,  even  by  women.  Simon  accorded  much 
space  to  Jewish  literature,  and  subjoined  a  list  of 
Jewish  writers.  By  this  means  Rabbinical  literature 
became  known  to  the  educated  more  than  through 
the  efforts  of  Reuchlin,  Scaliger,  the  two  Buxtorfs, 
and  the  learned  men  of  Holland  who  wrote  in  Latin. 

To  gain  a  comprehensive  knowledge  of  this  litera- 

ISO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   V. 

ture,  Richard  Simon  was  obliged,  like  Reuchlin 
before  him,  to  seek  intercourse  with  Jews  ;  in  parti- 
cular he  associated  with  Jonah  Salvador,  the  Italian 
Sabbatian.  By  this  means  he  lost  a  part  of  his 
prejudice  against  Jews,  which  still  existed  in  France 
in  its  intensity.  He  was  drawn  to  Jews  in  another 
direction.  Laying  stress  on  Catholic  tradition  as 
opposed  to  the  literal  belief  of  the  Protestants,  he 
felt  in  some  degree  related  to  the  Talmudists 
and  Rabbanites.  They  also  upheld  their  tradition 
against  the  literal  belief  of  the  Karaites.  Richard 
Simon,  therefore,  exalted  Rabbinical  Judaism  in  the 
introduction  and  supplements  which  he  added  to  his 
translation  of  Leon  Modena's  "Rites."  Familiar 
with  the  whole  of  Jewish  literature  as  few  of  his 
time  or  of  a  later  period,  Richard  Simon  refrained 
from  making  the  boastful  assertion,  grounded  upon 
ignorance,  that  Christianity  is  something  peculiar, 
fundamentally  different  to  Judaism  and  far  more 
exalted.  He  recognized,  and  had  the  courage  to 
declare,  the  truth  that  Christianity  in  its  substance 
and  form  was  molded  after  the  pattern  of  Judaism, 
and  would  have  to  become  like  it  again. 

"  Since  the  Christian  religion  has  its  origin  in  Judaism,  I  doubt  not 
that  the  perusal  of  this  little  book  (the  'Rites  '  )  will  contribute  to  the 
understanding  of  the  New  Testament,  on  account  of  its  similarity  to, 
and  close  connection  with  the  Old.  They  who  composed  it  were 
Jews,  and  it  can  be  explained  only  by  means  of  Judaism.  A  portion 
of  our  ceremonies  also  are  derived  from  the  Jews  ....  The  Chris- 
tian religion  has  this  besides  in  common  with  the  Jewish,  that  each  is 
based  on  Holy  Scripture,  on  the  tradition  of  the  fathers,  on  traditional 

habits   and   customs One   cannot    sufficiently   admire    the 

modesty  and  devotion  of  the  Jews,  as  they  go  to  prayer  in  the  morn- 
ing  The  Jews  distinguish  themselves,  not  only  by  prayers,  but 

also  by  deeds  of  mercy,  and  one  thinks  one  sees,  in  their  sympathy 
for  the  poor,  the  image  of  the  love  of  the  first  Christians  for  their 
brethren.  Men  obeyed  in  those  times  what  the  Jews  have  retained  to 
this  day,  while  we  (Christians)  have  scarcely  kept  up  the  remem- 
brance of  it." 

Richard  Simon  almost  deplored  that  the  Jews, 
formerly  so  learned  in  France,  who  looked  upon 
Paris  as  their  Athens,  had  been  driven  out  of  that 

CH.  V.  THE    TALMUD    DEFENDED.  l8l 

country.  He  defended  them  against  the  accusation 
of  their  hatred  of  Christians,  and  emphasized  the 
fact  that  they  pray  for  the  welfare  of  the  state  and 
its  princes.  His  predilection  for  tradition  went  so 
far,  that  he  maintained  that  the  college  of  cardinals 
at  Rome,  the  supreme  court  of  Christendom,  was 
formed  on  the  pattern  of  the  Synhedrion  at  Jerusa- 
lem, and  that  the  pope  corresponded  to  the  presi- 
dent, the  Nassi.  Whilst  he  compared  the  Catholics 
to  the  Rabbanites,  he  called  the  Protestants  Kara- 
ites, and  jestingly  wrote  to  his  Protestant  friends, 
"  My  dear  Karaites."  It  has  been  mentioned  that 
Richard  Simon  interested  himself  zealously  in  the 
Jews  of  Metz,  when  they  were  accused  of  murdering 
a  Christian  child.  When  other  opportunities  offered, 
he  defended  the  Jews  against  false  accusations  and 
suspicions.  A  baptized  Jew,  Christian  Gerson,  who 
had  become  a  Protestant  pastor,  at  the  beginning  of 
the  seventeenth  century,  in  order  to  vilify  the 
Talmud,  had  made  extracts  in  the  shape  of  ridiculous 
legends,  printed  and  published  in  many  editions. 
Richard  Simon  wrote  to  a  Swiss,  about  to  translate 
these  German  extracts  into  French,  that  Gerson  was 
not  guiltless  of  having  passed  off  plays  upon  words 
and  purely  allegorical  expressions  in  the  Talmud  as 
serious  narratives.  Gerson  imputed  to  the  whole 
Jewish  nation  certain  errors,  accepted  only  by  the 
credulous,  unable  to  distinguish  fiction  from  fact,  and 
he,  therefore,  abused  the  Talmud.  It  must  not  be 
forgotten  that  it  was  a  distinguished  ecclesiastic, 
moreover,  a  sober,  moderate  man,  who  spoke  thus 
favorably  of  Judaism.  His  books  and  letters,  writ- 
ten in  a  lively  French  style,  and  much  read  by  the 
educated  world,  gained  many  friends  for  Judaism, 
or  at  least  lessened  the  number  of  its  enemies.  The 
official  Catholic  world,  however,  appears  to  have 
reprimanded  this  eulogist  of  Judaism,  and  Richard 
Simon,  who  loved  peace,  was  obliged  partially  to 
recant  his  praises. 

1 82  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

"  I  have  said  too  much  good  of  this  wretched  nation,  and  through 
intercourse  with  some  of  them  I  have  since  learned  to  know  them." 

This  cannot  have  been  spoken  from  his  heart,  for 
he  was  not  wont  to  judge  a  whole  class  of  men 
by  a  few  individuals. 

The  attention  paid  to  Jews  and  their  literature  by 
Christian  scholars  and  princes  here  and  there  pro- 
duced droll  occurrences.     In  Sweden,  the  most  big- 
oted Protestant  country,  no  Jew  and  no  Catholic  were 
allowed  to  dwell.     Nevertheless   King  Charles   XI 
felt  extraordinary  interest  in  the  Jews,  still  more  in 
the   Karaites,  who  pretended  to  follow   the   simple 
word  of  God  without  the  accretion  of  traditions,  and 
were  said  to  bear  great  resemblance  to  the  Protes- 
tants.    Would   it    not   be   easy  to   bring   over   to 
Christianity  these  people  who  were  not  entangled  in 
the  web  of  the  Talmud  ?     Charles  XI    accordingly 
sent   a    professor   of  Upsala,  learned   in    Hebrew 
literature,  Gustavus  Peringer  of  Lilienblad   (about 
1690),  to  Poland  for  the  purpose  of  seeking  out  the 
Karaites,  informing  himself  of  their  manner  of  life 
and  their  customs,  and  especially  buying  their  writ- 
ings without  regard  to  cost.      Provided  with  letters 
of  recommendation  to  the  king  of  Poland,  Peringer 
went  first  to  Lithuania,  where  dwelt  several  Karaite 
communities.      But  the  Polish  and  Lithuanian  Kara- 
ites were  even  more  degraded  than  their  brethren 
in  Constantinople,  the  Crimea,  and  Egypt.     There 
were  very  few  among  them  who  knew  any  details 
about  their  origin  and  the  history  of  their  sect ;  not 
one  had  accurate  information.     At  about  this  time 
the  Polish  king,  John  Sobieski,  had  ordered,  through 
a  Karaite  judge,  Abraham  ben  Samuel  of  Trok,  who 
was  in  favor  with  him,  that  the  Karaites,  for  some 
unknown  object,  scatter  from  their  headquarters  of 
Trok,   Luzk,  and  Halicz,  and  settle   also   in   other 
small  towns  ;  they  obeyed,  and  dispersed  as  far  as 
the  northern  province  of  Samogitia.     These  Polish 
Karaites,  cut  off  from  their  center,  isolated,  avoid- 

CH.  V.  THE    KARAITES.  183 

ing  intercourse  with  rabbis,  and  mixing  only  with  the 
Polish  rustic  population,  became  more  and  more 
boorish,  and  sank  into  profound  lethargy. 

Whether  Peringer  even  partially  fulfilled  the  wish 
of  his  king  is  not  known  ;  probably  he  altogether 
failed  in  his  mission.  Some  years  later  ( 1 696- 1 697), 
two  learned  Swedes,  probably  also  commissioned 
by  Charles  XI,  traveled  in  Lithuania  to  visit  Kara- 
ite communities  and  buy  up  their  writings.  At  the 
same  time  they  invited  Karaites  to  visit  Sweden, 
and  give  information  respecting  their  doctrines. 
Zeal  for  conversion  had  certainly  more  share  in  the 
matter  than  curiosity  about  the  unknown.  A  young 
Karaite,  Samuel  ben  Aaron,  who  had  settled  at 
Poswol  in  Samogitia,  and  understood  some  Latin, 
resolved  to  make  a  journey  to  Riga,  and  hold  a 
conference  with  John  Puffendorf,  a  royal  official. 
Through  want  of  literary  sources  and  the  ignorance 
of  the  Karaites  concerning  the  origin  and  develop- 
ment of  their  sect,  Samuel  ben  Aaron  could  give 
only  a  scanty  account  in  a  work,  the  title  of  which 
proves  that  fancifulness  had  penetrated  also  to 
Karaite  circles. 

From  another  side  the  Karaites  were  the  object 
of  eager  inquiry.  A  professor  at  Leyden,  Jacob 
Trigland,  fairly  well  acquainted  with  Hebrew  litera- 
ture, who  intended  to  write  a  book  about  the  old 
Jewish  sects,  no  longer  in  existence,  had  his  atten- 
tion directed  to  the  still  existing  Karaites.  Inspired 
by  the  wish  to  get  information  concerning  the  Polish 
Karaites  and  obtain  possession  of  their  writings,  he 
sent  a  letter  with  various  questions  through  well- 
known  mercantile  houses  to  Karaites,  to  which  he 
solicited  an  answer.  This  letter  accidentally  fell 
into  the  hands  of  a  Karaite,  Morclecai  ben  Nissan, 
at  Luzk,  a  poor  official  of  the  community,  who  did 
not  know  enough  to  give  the  desired  information  as 
to  the  beginning  and  cause  of  the  schism  between 
Rabbanites  and  Karaites.  He  regarded  it  as  a 

184  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

point  of  honor  to  avail  himself  of  this  opportunity 
to  bring  the  forgotten  Karaites  to  the  remembrance 
of  the  educated  world  through  the  instrumentality 
of  a  Christian  writer,  and  to  deal  blows  at  their 
opponents,  the  Rabbanite  Jews.  He  spared  no 
sacrifice  to  procure  the  few  books  by  which  he  might 
be  able  to  instruct  himself  and  his  correspondent 
Trigland.  These  materials,  however,  were  not  worth 
much,  and  Mordecai's  dissertation  for  Trigland 
proved  unsatisfactory,  but  for  want  of  a  better  work 
it  had  the  good  fortune  to  serve  during  nearly  a 
century  and  a  half  as  the  only  source  for  the  history 
of  Karaism.  Some  years  later,  when  Charles  XII, 
the  hero  of  the  north,  conquered  Poland  in  his  victor- 
ious career,  and  like  his  father  was  anxious  to  have 
more  precise  intelligence  respecting  Karaites,  he 
also  made  inquiries  concerning  them.  Mordecai 
ben  Nissan  used  this  occasion  to  compose  a  work  in 
Hebrew  for  Charles  XII,  in  which  he  freely  indulged 
his  hatred  against  Rabbanites,  and  strained  every 
nerve  to  make  Talmudical  literature  ridiculous. 

The  zealous  attention  paid  by  Christian  scholars 
to  Jewish  literature  could  not  fail  to  cause  annoyance 
and  inconvenience  to  Jews.  They  felt  sorely  bur- 
dened by  German  Protestant  literati,  who,  acquiring 
cumbersome  learning,  strove  to  rival  the  Dutch 
writers  and  Richard  Simon  in  France,  without  pos- 
sessing their  mild  and  gentle  toleration  towards 
Jews,  or  their  elegance  of  style.  Almost  at  the  same 
time  three  German  Hebraists,  Wulfer,  Wagenseil, 
and  Eisenmenger,  used  their  knowledge  of  Hebrew 
literature  to  bring  accusations  against  the  Jews.  All 
three  associated  much  with  Jews,  learned  from  them, 
and  devoted  much  study  to  Jewish  literature,  mas- 
tering it  to  a  certain  degree. 

John  Wulfer  of  Nuremberg,  who  was  educated  for 
the  church,  and  had  studied  with  a  Jew  of  Fiirth  and 
afterwards  in  Italy,  thoroughly  acquainting  himself 
with  biblical  and  Talmudical  literature,  sought  after 

CH.   V.  THE    "ALENU"    PRAYER.  185 

Hebrew  manuscripts  and  old  Jewish  prayer-books 
to  found  an  accusation  against  the  Jews.  Christians, 
instigated  by  baptized  Jews,  took  offense  at  a  beau- 
tiful prayer  (Alenu),  which  arose  in  a  time  and 
country  in  which  Christianity  was  little  known. 
Some  Jews  were  wont  to  add  a  sentence  to  this 
prayer :  "  For  they  (the  heathen)  pray  unto  vanity 
and  emptiness."  In  the  word  "emptiness,"  enemies 
of  the  Jews  pretended  to  see  an  allusion  to  Jesus 
and  to  find  blasphemy  against  him.  The  sentence 
was  not  printed  in  the  prayer-books,  but  in  many 
copies  a  blank  space  was  left  for  it.  This  vacant 
space,  or  the  presence  of  the  obnoxious  word, 
equally  enraged  the  Protestants,  and  Wiilfer,  there- 
fore, searched  libraries  to  find  authority  for  it,  and 
when  he  found  the  word  in  manuscripts,  he  did  not 
fail  to  publish  his  discovery.  He  praised  Prince 
George  of  Hesse  because  he  made  his  Jews  swear 
an  oath  never  to  utter  a  blasphemous  word  against 
Jesus,  and  threatened  to  punish  them  with  death  in 
case  of  transgression.  Wiilfer,  on  the  other  hand, 
was  candid  enough  to  confess  that  the  Jews  had 
been  long  and  cruelly  persecuted  by  Christians,  that 
the  accusation  against  them  of  using  blood  was  a 
mischievous  invention,  and  that  the  testimony  of 
baptized  Jews  deserved  little  credence. 

John  Christopher  Wagenseil,  a  lawyer  and  pro- 
fessor at  Altorf,  was  a  good-hearted  man,  and  kindly 
disposed  towards  the  Jews.  He  had  traveled 
farther  than  Wiilfer,  had  penetrated  through  Spain 
into  Africa,  and  took  the  greatest  pains  to  hunt  up 
such  Jewish  writings  as  attacked  Christianity  from 
the  ground  of  Holy  Scripture  or  with  the  weapons 
of  reason.  His  discoveries  filled  his  quiver  "  with 
the  fiery  darts  of  Satan."  Wagenseil  looked  up 
that  insipid  compilation  of  the  magical  miracles  of 
Jesus  (Toldoth  Jesho),  with  which  a  Jew,  who  had 
been  persecuted  by  Christians,  tried  to  revenge 
himself  on  the  founder  of  Christianity,  and  he  spent 

1 86  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

much  money  in  hunting  up  this  Hebrew  parody  of 
the  Gospel.  Few  Jews  possessed  copies  of  it,  and 
the  owners  kept  them  under  lock  and  key  for  their 
own  security.  Because  one  Jew  had  once  written 
these  absurdities  about  Jesus,  and  some  Jews  had 
copies  of  the  book  in  their  possession,  while  others 
had  defended  themselves  against  attacks  by  Chris- 
tians, Wagenseil  felt  assured  that  the  Jews  of  his 
time  were  vile  blasphemers  of  Jesus.  He  therefore 
implored  the  princes  and  civil  magistrates  to  forbid 
the  Jews  most  strictly  to  continue  such  blasphemy. 
He  directed  a  pamphlet,  "The  Christian  Denuncia- 
tion," to  all  high  potentates,  urging  them  to  impose 
a  formal  oath  upon  Jews,  not  to  utter  any  word  of 
mockery  against  Jesus,  Mary,  the  cross,  the  mass, 
and  other  Christian  sacraments.  Wagenseil  had 
two  pious  wishes  besides.  One  was  that  the  Prot- 
estant princes  should  take  active  steps  for  the  con- 
version of  the  Jews.  He  had,  it  is  true,  convinced 
himself  that  at  Rome,  where  since  the  time  of  Pope 
Gregory  XIII  a  Dominican  monk  was  wont  on  cer- 
tain Sabbaths  to  hold  forth,  in  a  sleepy  manner,  be- 
fore a  number  of  Jews,  they  either  ignored  him  or 
mocked  at  him.  But  he  thought  that  the  Protestant 
princes,  more  zealous  Christians  than  the  Catholics, 
ought  to  devise  a  better  plan.  It  also  grieved  this 
thorough  scholar  that  the  colleges  of  rabbis  pre- 
sumed to  criticise  writings  concerning  the  Jewish 
religion,  and  that  they  ventured  to  express  their  ap- 
proval or  disapproval ;  this  was  an  infringement  of 
the  rights  and  the  dignity  of  Christians  !  Withal 
Wagenseil,  as  has  been  said,  was  kindly  disposed 
to  the  Jews.  He  remarked  with  emphasis  that  he 
thought  it  wrong  and  unworthy  to  burn  Jews,  to  rob 
them  of  all  their  property,  or  to  drive  them  with  their 
wives  and  children  out  of  the  country.  It  was  ex- 
cessively cruel  that  in  Germany  and  other  countries 
children  of  Jews  should  be  baptized  against  the  will 
of  their  parents,  and  compelled  to  accept  Christian- 


ity.  The  oppressions  and  insults  to  which  they  were 
exposed  at  the  hands  of  the  Christian  rabble  were 
by  no  means  to  be  approved.  It  was  not  right  that 
they  were  compelled  to  say  "  Christ  is  risen,"  that 
they  were  assailed  with  blows,  had  dirt  and  stones 
thrown  at  them,  and  were  not  allowed  to  go  about 
in  safety.  Wagenseil  wrote  a  pamphlet  to  expose 
the  horrible  falsehood  of  the  charge,  that  the  Jews 
use  the  blood  of  Christians.  For  the  sake  of  this 
pamphlet,  which  spoke  so  warmly  for  the  Jews,  his 
other  absurdities  should  be  pardoned.  Wagenseil 
expressed  his  indignation  at  the  horrible  lie : 

"  It  might  pass  if  the  matter  stopped  with  idle  gossip  ;  but  that  on 
account  of  this  execrable  falsehood  Jews  have  been  tormented,  pun- 
ished, and  executed  by  thousands,  should  have  moved  even  stones  to 
compassion,  and  made  them  cry  out." 

Is  it  credible  that  in  the  face  of  this  judgment, 
spoken  with  firm  conviction  by  Wiilfer  and  Wagen- 
seil, who  not  only  had  associated  with  Jews  for 
years,  but  were  accurately  acquainted  with  Jewish 
literature,  and  had  penetrated  into  its  innermost  re- 
cesses as  none  before  them,  their  contemporaries 
should  seriously  revive  the  horrible  falsehood,  and 
justify  it  with  ostentatious  learning?  A  Protestant, 
John  Andrew  Eisenmenger,  professor  of  Oriental 
languages,  repeated  the  accusation,  a  thousand  times 
branded  as  false,  and  furnished  posterity  with  abund- 
ant material  for  charges  against  the  Jews.  Eisen- 
menger belonged  to  the  class  of  insects  which  sucks 
poison  even  out  of  flowers.  In  confidential  converse 
with  Jews,  pretending  that  he  desired  to  be  con- 
verted to  Judaism,  and  in  the  profound  study  of 
their  literature,  which  he  learned  from  them,  he 
sought  only  the  dark  side  of  both. 

He  compiled  a  venomous  book  in  two  volumes, 
the  title  of  which  in  itself  was  an  invitation  to  Chris- 
tians to  massacre  the  Jews,  and  was  synonymous 
with  a  repetition  of  earlier  scenes  of  horror  for  the 

1 88  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

"Judaism  Unmasked  ;  or  a  Thorough  and  True  Account  of  the 
Way  in  which  the  Stubborn  Jews  frightfully  blaspheme  and  dishonor 
the  Holy  Trinity,  revile  the  Holy  Mother  of  Christ,  mockingly  criticise 
the  New  Testament,  the  Evangelists,  the  Apostles,  and  the  Christian 
Religion,  and  despise  and  curse  to  the  Uttermost  Extreme  the  whole 
of  Christianity.  Much  else  besides,  either  not  at  all  or  very  little 
known,  and  Gross  Errors  of  the  Jewish  Religion  and  Theology,  as 
well  as  Ridiculous  and  Amusing  Stories,  herein  appear.  All  proved 
from  their  own  Books.  Written  for  the  Honest  Information  of  all 

Eisenmenger  intended  to  hurl  Wagenseil's  "fiery 
darts  of  Satan  "  with  deadly  aim  at  the  Jews.  If  he 
had  merely  quoted  detached  sentences  from  the 
Talmudical  and  later  Rabbinical  literature  and  anti- 
Christian  writings,  translated  them,  and  drawn  con- 
clusions from  them  hostile  to  the  Jews,  he  would 
only  have  proved  his  mental  weakness.  But  Eisen- 
menger represented  most  horrible  falsehoods,  as 
Wagenseil  had  called  them,  as  indisputable  facts. 
He  adduced  a  whole  chapter  of  proofs  showing  that 
it  was  not  lawful  for  Jews  to  save  a  Christian  from 
danger  to  life,  that  the  Rabbinical  laws  command 
the  slaughter  of  Christians,  and  that  no  confidence 
should  be  placed  in  Jewish  physicians,  nor  ought 
their  medicines  to  be  taken.  He  repeated  all  the 
false  stories  of  murders  committed  by  Jews  against 
Christians,  of  the  poisoning  of  wells  by  Jews  at  the 
time  of  the  Black  Death,  of  the  poisoning  of  the 
elector  of  Brandenburg,  Joachim  II,  by  his  Jewish 
mint-master,  of  Raphael  Levi's  child-murder  at  Metz 
— in  short,  all  ever  invented  by  saintly  simplicity, 
priestly  fraud,  or  excited  fanaticism,  and  imputed  to 
Jews.  That  the  martyrdom  of  little  Simon  of  Trent 
was  a  fabrication  had  been  clearly  proved  by  the 
doge  and  senate  of  Venice  on  authentic  documents. 
Not  only  the  Jewish  writers  Isaac  Viva  and  Isaac 
Cardoso,  but  also  Christians,  like  Wiilfer  and  Wag- 
enseil, recognized  these  documents  as  genuine,  and 
represented  the  charge  against  the  Jews  of  Trent 
as  a  crying  injustice.  Eisenmenger  was  not  influ- 
enced by  that,  declared  the  documents  to  be  forged, 

CH.  V.  "JUDAISM    UNMASKED."  189 

and  maintained  the  bloodthirstiness  of  Jews  with 
fiery  zeal  and  energy.  One  would  be  justified  in 
ascribing  his  proceedings  against  Jews  to  brutality 
or  avarice.  Although  very  learned  in  Hebrew,  he 
was  otherwise  uncultured.  He  was  willing  to  be 
bribed  by  solid  coin  into  silence  with  regard  to  the 
Jews.  But  for  the  honor  of  humanity  one  would 
rather  impute  his  course  to  blindness  ;  he  had  lived 
a  long  time  at  Frankfort-on-the-Main,  formerly  the 
center  of  hatred  to  Jews  in  Germany,  and  he  may 
there  have  imbibed  his  bitter  animosity,  and  have 
wished,  at  first  from  conscientious  motives,  to  blacken 
the  character  of  the  Jews. 

Some  Jews  had  got  wind  of  the  printing  of 
Eisenmenger's  workat  Frankfort,  and  were  nota  little 
alarmed  at  the  danger  threatening  them.  The  old 
prejudices  of  the  masses  and  the  ecclesiastics  against 
Jews,  stronger  amongst  Protestants  than  Catholics, 
still  existed  too  strongly  for  a  firebrand  publication 
to  appear  in  German  without  doing  mischief  wher- 
ever it  came.  The  Jews  of  Frankfort  therefore 
placed  themselves  in  communication  with  the  court- 
Jews  at  Vienna  in  order  to  meet  the  danger. 
Emperor  Leopold  I,  who,  at  the  instigation  of  the 
empress  and  her  father-confessor,  had  expelled  the 
Jews  from  Vienna,  being  in  need  of  money  in  con- 
sequence of  the  Turkish  wars,  fifteen  years  later 
allowed  some  rich  Jews  to  settle  in  the  capital. 
Samuel  Oppenheim,  of  Heidelberg,  a  banker,  one  of 
the  noblest  of.  Jews,  whose  heart  and  hand  were 
open  to  all  sufferers,  had  probably  brought  about 
this  concession.  As  before,  several  Jewish  families, 
alleged  to  be  his  servants,  came  with  him  to  Vienna. 
Samuel  Oppenheim  zealously  endeavored  to  pre- 
vent the  circulation  of  Eisenmenger's  book  against 
the  Jews.  He  had  the  same  year  experienced  what 
a  Christian  rabble  instigated  by  hatred  of  Jews 
could  do.  A  riotous  assault  was  made  upon  his 
house,  which  was  broken  into,  and  everything 

HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

there,  including-  the  money-chest,  was  plundered 
(July  17,  1700).  Hence  from  personal  motives 
and  on  public  grounds  Samuel  Oppenheim  exerted 
himself  to  prevent  the  2,000  copies  of  Eisen- 
menger's  work  from  seeing  the  light  of  day.  He 
and  other  Jews  could  justly  maintain  that  the  publi- 
cation of  this  book  in  German,  unattractive  though 
its  style  was,  would  lead  to  the  massacre  of  the  Jews. 
An  edict  was  therefore  issued  by  the  emperor  for- 
bidding its  dissemination.  Eisenmenger  was  doubly 
disappointed ;  he  could  not  wreak  his  hatred  on  the 
Jews,  and  he  had  lost  the  whole  of  his  property, 
which  he  had  spent  on  the  printing,  and  was  obliged 
to  incur  debts.  All  the  copies,  except  a  few  which 
he  had  abstracted,  were  in  Frankfort  under  lock 
and  key.  He  entered  into  negotiations  with  Jews, 
and  proposed  to  destroy  his  work  for  90,000  marks. 
As  the  Jews  offered  scarcely  half  that  sum,  the  con- 
fiscation remained  in  force,  and  Eisenmenger,  de- 
ceived in  all  his  hopes,  died  of  vexation. 

But  the  matter  did  not  terminate  there.  Fre- 
derick I,  the  newly-crowned  king  of  Prussia,  took  a 
lively  interest  in  the  book.  The  attention  of  this 
prince  was  keenly  directed  to  the  Jews  from  various 
causes.  At  the  beginning  of  the  eighteenth  century 
more  than  a  thousand  Jews  dwelt  in  his  domains. 
The  community  of  Berlin  had  grown  in  thirty  years, 
since  their  admission,  from  twelve  to  some  seventy 
families.  Frederick  I,  who  was  fond  of  show  and 
pomp,  had  no  particular  partiality  for  Jews,  but  he 
valued  them  for  the  income  derived  from  them. 
The  court  jeweler,  Jost  Liebmann,  was  highly 
esteemed  at  court,  because  he  supplied  pearls  and 
trinkets  on  credit,  and  thus  held  an  exceptionally 
favorable  position.  It  was  said  that  Liebmann's 
wife  had  taken  the  fancy  of  the  prince  ;  she  later 
obtained  the  liberty  of  entering  the  king's  apartment 
unannounced.  Through  her  the  Jews  received  per- 
mission to  have  a  cemetery  in  Konigsberg  ;  but 

CH.  V.  JEWS    IN    PRUSSIA.  19! 

Jewish  money  was  more  highly  prized  by  this  king 
than  Jewish  favorites-  Frederick,  who  while  elector 
had  thought  of  banishing  the  Jews,  tolerated  them 
for  the  safety  tax  which  they  had  to  pay — 100  ducats 
yearly — but  they  were  subjected  to  severe  restric- 
tions, amongst  others  they  could  not  own  houses 
and  lands.  Yet  they  were  allowed  to  have  syna- 
gogues, first  a  private  one  granted  as  a  favor  to  the 
court  jeweler  Jost  Liebmann  and  the  family  of 
David  Riess,  an  immigrant  from  Austria,  and  then, 
owing  to  frequent  disputes  about  rights  and  privil- 
eges, a  public  synagogue  as  well. 

Two  maliciously  disposed  baptized  Jews,  Chris- 
tian Kahtz  and  Francis  Wenzel,  sought  to  pre- 
judice the  new  king  and  the  population  against  the 
Jews.  "  Blasphemy  against  Jesus  " — so  runs  the 
lying  charge.  The  prayer  "Alenu"  and  others  were 
cited  as  proofs  that  the  Jews  pronounced  the  name 
of  Jesus  with  contumely,  and  that  they  spat  in  doing 
so.  The  guilds  not  being  well  disposed  to  the 
Jews  utilized  this  excitement  for  fanatical  per- 
secution, and  such  bitter  feeling  arose  in  the  cities 
and  villages  against  the  Jews,  that  (as  they  expressed 
themselves,  perhaps  knowingly  exaggerating)  their 
life  was  no  longer  safe.  King  Frederick  proposed 
a  course  which  does  honor  to  his  good  heart.  He 
issued  a  command  (December,  1700)  to  all  the  pres- 
idents of  departments  to  call  together  the  rabbis 
and,  in  default  of  them,  the  Jewish  school-masters 
and  elders  on  a  certain  day,  and  ask  them  on  oath 
whether,  in  uttering  or  silently  using  the  blasphemous 
word  "  va-rik,"  they  applied  it  to  Jesus.  The  Jews 
everywhere  solemnly  declared  on  oath  that  they  did 
not  refer  to  Jesus  in  this  prayer  at  the  place  where 
the  lacuna  was  left  in  the  prayer-books.  John 
Henry  Michaelis,  the  theologian,  of  Halle,  who  was 
asked  respecting  the  character  of  the  Jews,  pro- 
nounced them  innocent  of  the  blasphemy  of  which 
they  were  accused.  As  the  king  continued  to  sus- 

HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

pect  the  Jews  of  reviling  Jesus  in  thought,  he  issued 
orders  characteristic  of  the  time  (1703).  He  said 
that  it  was  his  heart's  wish  to  bring  the  people  of 
Israel,  whom  the  Lord  had  once  loved  and  chosen 
as  His  peculiar  possession,  into  the  Christian  com- 
munion. He  did  not,  however,  presume  to  exercise 
control  over  their  consciences,  but  would  leave  the 
conversion  of  the  Jews  to  time  and  God's  wise  coun- 
sel. Nor  would  he  bind  them  by  oath  to  refrain 
from  uttering  in  prayer  the  words  in  question.  But  he 
commanded  them  on  pain  of  punishment  to  refrain 
from  those  words,  to  utter  the  prayer  "  Alenu  "  aloud, 
and  not  to  spit  while  so  doing.  Spies  were  ap- 
pointed to  visit  the  synagogues  from  time  to  time, 
as  eleven  centuries  before  in  the  Byzantine  empire, 
in  order  to  observe  whether  this  concluding  prayer 
was  pronounced  aloud  or  in  a  whisper. 

Eisenmenger  before  his  death,  and  his  heirs  after 
him,  knowing  that  the  king  of  Prussia  was  inclined 
to  listen  to  accusations  against  the  Jews,  had  applied 
to  him  to  entreat  Emperor  Leopold  to  release  the 
book  against  the  Jews,  entitled  "  Judaism  Unmasked," 
from  ban  and  prohibition.  Frederick  I  interested 
himself  warmly  in  the  matter,  and  sent  a  kind  of 
petition  to  Emperor  Leopold  I  (April  25,  1705) 
very  characteristic  of  the  tone  of  that  time.  The 
king  represented  that  Eisenmenger  had  sunk  all  his 
money  in  this  book,  and  had  died  of  vexation  at  the 
imperial  prohibition.  It  would  seem  a  lowering  of 
Christianity  if  the  Jews  were  so  powerful  as  to  be 
able  to  suppress  a  book  written  in  defense  of  Christi- 
anity and  in  refutation  of  Jewish  errors.  There 
was  no  reason  to  apprehend,  as  the  Jews  pretended, 
that  it  would  incite  the  people  to  a  violent  onslaught 
against  them,  since  similar  writings  had  lately  ap- 
peared which  had  done  them  no  harm.  Eisen- 
menger's  book  aimed  chiefly  at  the  promotion  of 
Christianity,  so  that  Christians  might  not,  as  had 
repeatedly  happened  some  years  ago.  be  induced  to 


revolt  from  it  and  become  adherents  of  Judaism. 
But  Emperor  Leopold  would  not  remove  the  ban 
from  Eisenmenger's  book.  King  Frederick  repeated 
his  request  three  years  later,  at  the  desire  of  Eisen- 
menger's heirs,  to  Emperor  Joseph  I.  With  him 
also  King  Frederick  found  no  favorable  hearing, 
and  the  2,000  copies  of  "Judaism  Unmasked" 
remained  at  Frankfort  under  ban  for  forty  years. 
But  with  Frederick's  approval  a  second  edition  was 
brought  out  at  Konigsberg,  where  the  imperial  cen- 
sorship had  no  power.  For  the  moment  it  had  no 
such  effect  as  the  one  side  had  hoped  and  the  other 
feared ;  but,  later  on,  when  the  rights  of  Jews  as 
men  and  citizens  were  considered,  it  proved  an 
armory  for  malicious  or  indolent  opponents. 

King  Frederick  I  was  often  urged  by  enemies  of 
the  Jews  to  make  his  royal  authority  a  cloak  for  their 
villainy.  The  bright  and  the  dark  side  of  the  gen- 
eral appreciation  of  Jewish  literature  appeared 
clearly.  In  Holland,  likewise  a  Protestant  country, 
a  Christian  scholar  of  this  period  cherished  great 
enthusiasm  for  the  Mishna,  the  backbone  of  Talmud- 
ical  Judaism.  William  Surenhuysius,  a  young  man 
of  Amsterdam,  in  the  course  of  many  years  translated 
the  Mishna  with  two  commentaries  upon  it  into 
Latin  (printed  1 698- 1 703) .  He  displayed  more  than 
the  usual  amount  of  Dutch  industry  and  application. 
Love  certainly  was  needed  to  undertake  such  a 
study,  persevere  in  it,  and  finish  the  work  in  a  clear 
and  attractive  style.  No  language  and  literature 
present  so  many  difficulties  as  this  dialect,  now 
almost  obsolete,  the  objects  which  it  describes,  and 
the  form  in  which  it  is  cast.  Surenhuysius  sat  at 
the  feet  of  Jewish  teachers,  of  whom  there  were 
many  at  Amsterdam,  and  he  was  extremely  grateful 
for  their  help.  But  their  assistance  did  not  enable 
him  to  dispense  with  industry  and  devotion.  He 
was  influenced  by  the  conviction  that  the  oral  Law, 
the  Mishna,  in  its  main  contents  is  as  divine  as  the 

194  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

written  word  of  the  Bible.  He  desired  that  Chris- 
tian youths  in  training  for  theology  and  the  clerical 
profession  should  not  yield  to  the  seductions  of 
classical  literature,  but  by  engaging  in  the  study  of 
the  Mishna  should,  as  it  were,  receive  ordination 

"  He  who  desires  to  be  a  good  and  worthy  disciple  of  Christ  must 
first  become  a  Jew,  or  he  must  first  learn  thoroughly  the  language  and 
culture  of  the  Jews,  and  become  Moses's  disciple  before  he  joins 
the  Apostles,  in  order  that  he  may  be  able  through  Moses  and  the 
prophets  to  convince  men  that  Jesus  is  the  Messiah." 

In  this  enthusiastic  admiration  for  the  corner-stone 
of  the  edifice  of  Judaism,  which  the  builders  up  of 
culture  were  wont  to  despise,  Surenhuysius  included 
the  people  who  owned  these  laws.  He  cordially 
thanked  the  senate  of  Amsterdam  because  it  speci- 
ally protected  the  Jews. 

"  In  the  measure  in  which  this  people  once  surpassed  all  other 
peoples,  you  give  it  preference,  worthy  men  !  The  old  renown  and 
dignity,  which  this  people  and  the  citizens  of  Jerusalem  once  pos- 
sessed, are  yours.  For  the  Jews  are  sincerely  devoted  to  you,  not 
overcome  by  force  of  arms,  but  won  over  by  humanity  and  wisdom  ; 
they  come  to  you,  and  are  happy  to  obey  your  republican  government." 

Surenhuysius  was  outspoken  in  his  displeasure 
against  those  who  having  learned  what  served  their 
interest  from  the  Scriptures  of  the  Jews,  reviled  and 
threw  mud  at  them,  "  like  highwaymen,  who,  having 
robbed  an  honest  man  of  all  his  clothes,  beat  him  to 
death,  and  send  him  away  with  scorn."  He  formed 
a  plan  to  make  the  whole  of  Rabbinical  literature 
accessible  to  the  learned  world  through  the  Latin 
language.  While  Surenhuysius  of  Amsterdam  felt 
such  enthusiasm  for  this,  not  the  most  brilliant,  side 
of  Judaism,  and  saw  in  it  a  means  to  promote 
Christianity  (in  which  view  he  did  not  stand  alone), 
a  vile  Polish  Jew,  named  Aaron  Margalita,  an 
apostate  to  Christianity  for  the  sake  of  gain,  brought 
fresh  accusations  of  blasphemy  before  King  Fred- 
erick of  Prussia  against  an  utterly  harmless  part  of 
Jewish  literature — the  old  Agada.  An  edition  of 

CH.   V.  JACOB    BASNAGE.  195 

the  Midrash  Rabba  (1705),  published  at  Frankfort- 
on-the-Oder,  was  accordingly  put  under  a  ban  by 
the  king's  command,  until  Christian  theologians 
should  pronounce  judgment  upon  it. 

The  best  result  of  this  taste  for  Jewish  literature 
on  the  part  of  learned  Christians,  and  of  the  literary 
works  promoted  thereby  was  an  interesting  histori- 
cal work  concerning  Jews  and  Judaism,  which  may 
be  said  to  have  terminated  the  old,  and  foreshadowed 
a  new  epoch.  Jacob  Basnage  (born  1653,  died 
1723),  of  noble  character,  a  Protestant  theologian,  a 
solid  historian,  a  pleasant  author,  and  a  person  held 
in  high  esteem  generally,  rendered  incalculable  ser- 
vice to  Judaism.  He  sifted  the  results  of  the  labori- 
ous researches  of  scholars,  popularized  them,  and 
made  them  accessible  to  all  educated  circles.  In 
his  assiduous  historical  inquiries,  especially  as  to  the 
development  of  the  Church,  Basnage  met  Jews  at 
almost  every  step.  He  had  a  suspicion  that  the 
Jewish  people  had  not,  as  ordinary  theologians 
thought,  become  utterly  bankrupt  through  the  loss 
of  its  political  independence  and  the  spread  of  Chris- 
tianity, a  doomed  victim,  the  ghost  of  its  former  self. 
The  great  sufferings  of  this  people  and  its  rich  lit- 
erature inspired  him  with  awe.  His  sense  of  truth 
with  regard  to  historical  events  would  not  allow  him 
to  dismiss  facts  or  explain  them  away  with  empty 
phrases.  Basnage  undertook  to  compile  the  history 
of  the  Jews  or  the  Jewish  religion,  so  far  as  it  was 
known  to  him,  from  Jesus  down  to  his  own  times. 
He  labored  on  this  work  for  more  than  five  years. 
It  was  intended  to  continue  the  history  of  the  Jewish 
historian  Flavins  Josephus  after  the  dispersion  of 
the  Jewish  people.  Basnage  strove,  as  far  as  was 
possible  for  a  staunch  Protestant  at  that  time,  to 
present  and  judge  events  in  an  impartial  manner. 

"  Christians  may  not  be  surprised  that  we  often  acquit  the  Jews  of 
crimes  of  which  they  are  not  guilty,  since  justice  so  requires.  No  par- 
tiality is  implied  in  accusing  those  of  injustice  and  oppression  who 

196  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

have  been  guilty  of  them.  We  have  no  intention  to  injure  the  Jews 
any  more  than  to  flatter  them.  ...  In  the  decay  and  dregs  of  cen- 
turies men  have  adopted  a  spirit  of  cruelty  and  barbarism  towards  the 
Jews.  They  were  accused  ot  being  the  cause  of  all  the  disasters  which 
happened,  and  charged  with  a  multitude  of  crimes  of  which  they 
never  even  dreamed.  Numberless  miracles  were  invented  to  convict 
them,  or  rather  the  better  to  satisfy  hatred  under  the  shade  of  religion. 
We  have  made  a  collection  of  laws,  which  councils  and  princes  pub- 
lished against  them,  by  means  of  which  people  can  judge  of  the  malice 
of  the  former  and  the  oppression  of  the  latter.  Men  did  not,  however, 
confine  themselves  to  the  edicts,  but  everywhere  military  executions, 
popular  riots,  and  massacres  took  place.  Yet,  by  a  miracle  of  Provi- 
dence, which  must  excite  the  astonishment  of  all  Christians,  this  hated 
nation,  persecuted  in  all  places  for  a  great  number  of  centuries,  still 
exists  everywhere.  .  .  .  Peoples  and  kings,  heathens,  Christians,  and 
Mahometans,  opposed  to  one  another  in  so  many  points,  have  agreed 
in  the  purpose  of  destroying  this  nation,  and  have  not  succeeded. 
The  bush  of  Moses,  surrounded  by  flames,  has  ever  burned  without 
being  consumed.  The  Jews  have  been  driven  out  of  all  the  cities  of 
the  world,  and  this  has  only  served  to  spread  them  abroad  in  all  cities. 
They  still  live  in  spite  of  the  contempt  and  hatred  which  follow  them 
everywhere,  while  the  greatest  monarchies  have  fallen,  and  are  known 
to  us  only  by  name." 

Basnage,  who  by  the  revocation  of  the  Edict  of 
Nantes  through  the  Catholic  intolerance  of  Louis 
XIV  was  banished  to  Holland,  could  to  some  degree, 
appreciate  the  feelings  of  the  Jews  during  their  long 
exile.  He  had  acquired  sufficient  knowledge  of 
Jewish  literature  to  consult  the  authorities  in  the 
execution  of  his  work.  The  historical  works  of 
Abraham  ibn  Daud,  Ibn  Yachya,  Ibn  Verga,  David 
Gans,  and  others  were  not  neglected ;  they  served 
Basnage  as  building  material  wherewith  to  rear  the 
great  fabric  of  Jewish  history  of  the  sixteen  centuries 
since  the  origin  of  Christianity. 

But  Basnage  was  not  sufficiently  an  artist  to  un- 
roll before  the  eye  in  glowing  colors,  even  if  in  im- 
ages fleeting  as  the  mist,  the  sublime  or  tragic  scenes 
of  Jewish  history.  Nor  had  he  the  talent  to  mass 
together  or  marshal  in  groups  and  detachments  facts 
widely  scattered  in  consequence  of  the  peculiar 
course  of  this  people's  history.  One  can  feel  in 
Basnage's  presentation  that  he  was  oppressed  and 
overpowered  by  the  superabundance  of  details.  He 
jumbled  together  times  and  occurrences  in  motley 

CH.  V.  A    HISTORY    BY    BASNAGE.  197 

confusion,  divided  the  history  into  two  unnatural 
halves,  the  East  and  the  West,  and  described  in  con- 
junction events  without  connection.  Of  the  deep 
inner  springs  of  the  life  and  deeds  of  the  nation  he 
had  no  comprehension.  His  Protestant  creed  hind- 
ered him ;  he  saw  Jewish  history  only  through  the 
thick  mist  of  Church  history.  Despite  his  efforts  to 
be  impartial  and  honest,  he  could  not  rid  himself  of 
the  belief  that  the  "Jews  are  rejected  because  they 
have  rejected  Jesus."  In  short,  Basnage's  "  History 
of  the  Religion  of  the  Jews"  has  a  thousand  faults. 
Hardly  a  single  sentence  can  be  regarded  as  per- 
fectly just  and  in  accordance  with  the  truth. 

Yet  the  appearance  of  this  work  was  of  great  im- 
portance to  the  Jews.  It  circulated  in  the  educated 
world  a  mass  of  historical  information,  crude  and 
distorted  though  it  was,  because  it  was  written  in 
the  fashionable  French  language,  and  this  seed  shot 
up  everywhere  luxuriantly.  A  people,  which,  despite 
bloody  persecutions,  without  a  home,  with  no  spot 
on  the  whole  earth  where  it  could  lay  its  head  or 
place  its  foot,  yet  possessed  a  history  not  wholly  de- 
void of  splendor — such  a  people  was  not  like  a  gipsy 
horde,  but  must  find  ever-increasing  consideration. 
Without  his  knowledge  or  intention,  even  whilst 
casting  many  an  aspersion  upon  the  Jewish  race, 
Basnage  paved  the  way  to  raising  it  from  its  abject 
condition.  Christian  Theophilus  Unger,  a  pastor  in 
Silesia,  and  John  Christopher  Wolf,  professor  of 
Oriental  languages  in  Hamburg,  who  were  busily 
and  earnestly  engaged  in  the  study  of  Jewish  litera- 
ture and  history,  became  Basnage's  disciples,  and 
without  his  work  could  not  have  effected  so  much  as 
they  did  in  this  field.  Both,  especially  Wolf,  filled 
many  gaps  which  Basnage  had  left,  and  evinced  a 
certain  degree  of  warmth  for  the  cause. 

The  admiration,  or  at  least  sympathy,  felt  for  the 
Jews  at  this  time,  induced  John  Toland  (an  Irish- 
man, the  courageous  opponent  of  fossilized  Chris- 

198  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  V. 

tianity)  to  raise  his  voice  on  behalf  of  their  equality 
with  Christians  in  England  and  Ireland.  This  was 


the  first  word  spoken  in  favor  of  their  emancipation. 
But  the  people,  in  whose  favor  this  remarkable  re- 
vulsion of  sentiment  had  taken  place  in  the  educated 
wo  rid,  was  without  knowledge  of  it,  and  felt  no  change 
in  popular  sentiment. 



Low  Condition  of  the  Jews  at  the  End  of  the  Seventeenth  Century — 
Representatives  of  Culture  :  David  Nieto,  Jehuda  Brieli — The 
Kabbala — Jewish  Chroniclers — Lopez  Laguna  translates  the 
Psalms  into  Spanish — De  Barrios — The  Race  after  Wealth- 
General  Poverty  of  the  Jews — Revival  of  Sabbatianism — Daniel 
Israel  Bonafoux,  Cardoso,  Mordecai  of  Eisenstadt,  Jacob  Ouerido, 
and  Berachya — Sabbatianism  in  Poland — Abraham  Cuenqui — 
Judah  Chassid — Chayim  Malach — Solomon  Ayllon — Nehemiah 
Chayon — David  Oppenheim's  Famous  Library — Chacham  Zevi 
— The  Controversy  on  Chayon's  Heretical  Works  in  Amsterdam. 

1700 — 1725  c.  E. 

AT  the  time  when  the  eyes  of  the  civilized  world 
were  directed  upon  the  Jewish  race  with  a  certain 
degree  of  sympathy  and  admiration,  and  when,  at 
the  dawn  of  enlightenment  in  the  so-called  philo- 
sophical century,  ecclesiastical  prejudices  were  be- 
ginning to  disappear,  the  members  of  this  race  were 
making  a  by  no  means  favorable  impression  upon 
those  with  whom  they  came  into  contact.  Weighed 
in  the  balance,  they  were  found  wanting  even  by 
their  well-wishers.  The  Jews  were  at  no  time  in  so 
pitiful  a  plight  as  at  the  end  of  the  seventeenth  and 
beginning  of  the  eighteenth  century.  Several  cir- 
cumstances had  contributed  to  render  them  utterly 
demoralized  and  despised.  The  former  teachers 
of  Europe,  through  the  sad  course  of  centuries,  had 
become  childish,  or  worse,  dotards.  Every  public 
or  historical  act  of  the  Jews  bears  this  character  of 
imbecility,  if  not  contemptibility.  There  was  not  a 
single  cheering  event,  hardly  a  person  commanding 
respect  who  could  worthily  represent  Judaism,  and 
bring  it  into  estimation.  The  strong-minded,  manly 
Orobio  de  Castro  (died  in  1687),  the  former  victim 


2OO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

of  the  Inquisition,  whose  fidelity  to  conviction,  whose 
dignity,  and  the  acumen  with  which  he   contested 
Christianity  commanded  the  respect  of  the  leading 
opponents  of  Judaism,  was  indeed  still  living.     But 
he  left  no  successor  of  equal  standing  within  the 
highly  cultured  community  of  Amsterdam,  certainly 
not  outside  of  it,  where  the  conditions  for  an  inde- 
pendent  Jewish   personality  possessed  of  culture 
were  entirely  wanting.     The  leaders  of  the  com- 
munity were  for  the  most  part  led  astray,  wandering 
as  in  a  dream,  and  stumbling  at  every  step.     But 
few  rabbis  occupied  themselves  with  any  branch  of 
knowledge  beyond  the  Talmud,  or  entered  on  a  new 
path  in  this  study.    The  exceptions  can  be  counted. 
Rabbi   David  Nieto,  of  London  (born    1654,  died 
1728),  was  a  man  of  culture.     He  was  a  physician, 
understood  mathematics,  was  sufficiently  able  to  de- 
fend Judaism  against  calumnies,  and,  besides  many 
platitudes,  wrote  much  that  was  reasonable.     The 
Italian  rabbi,  Jehuda  Leon  Brieli,  of  Mantua  (born 
about  1643,  died  1722),  was  also  an  important  per- 
sonage— a  man  of  sound  views,  of  solid,  even  philo- 
sophical knowledge,  whose  style  in  the  vernacular 
was  elegant,  and  who  knew  how  to  defend  Judaism 
against  Christian  aggressiveness.     Brieli  had  the 
courage  to  disregard  two  customs,  which  was  ac- 
counted worse  than  criminal  by  his  contemporaries  : 
he  remained  unmarried  all  his  life,  and  though  a 
rabbi,  did  not  wear  a  beard.     But  Brieli's  influence 
on  his  Jewish  contemporaries  was  very  slight.      He 
knew  the  weaknesses  of  Christianity,  but  had  not 
the  same  sharp  vision  for  the  faults  of  Judaism  and 
the  Jews.     Of  the  mischievous  nature  of  the  Zohar 
and   the    Kabbala   generally,   however,  Brieli   was 
thoroughly  aware  ;  he  wished  that  they  had  not  seen 
the  light  of  day  ;  but  his  critical  knowledge  extended 
no  further. 

For  the  rest,  the  rabbis  of  this  period  were  not 
models,  the  Poles  and  Germans  being  for  the  most 


part  pitiable  figures,  their  heads  filled  with  unprofit- 
able knowledge,  otherwise  ignorant  and  helpless  as 
little  children.     The  Portuguese  rabbis  presented  a 
dignified,    imposing    appearance,    but    they    were 
shallow.     The  Italians  bore  more  resemblance  to 
the  Germans,  but  had  not  their   learning.     Thus, 
with  no  guides  acquainted  with  the  road,  sunk  in  igno- 
rance, or  filled  with  conceit,  beset  with  phantoms, 
the  Jews  in  all  parts  of  the  world  without  exception 
were   passing  from  one  absurdity  to  another,  and 
allowing  themselves  to  be  imposed  upon  by  jugglers 
and   visionaries.     Any    absurdity,    however    trans- 
parent, provided  it  was  apparently  vindicated  with 
religious  earnestness,  and  interlarded  with  strained 
verses  of  Scripture,  or  sayings  from   the   Talmud 
artificially  explained,  or  garnished  with  scraps  of 
the    Kabbala,  was   persistently  believed   and  pro- 
pagated.    "  The  minds  of  men,  estranged  from  life 
and   true   knowledge,    exhausted   their   powers    in 
subtleties  and  the  superstitious  errors  of  the  Kab- 
bala.    Teachers  spoke  seldom  or  only  in  the  words 
of  the  Talmud  to  their  scholars  ;  no  attention  was 
paid  to  delivery,  for  there  was  no  language  and  no 
eloquence."     The  culminating  point  of  the  Middle 
Ages  was  reached  in  Jewish  history  at  a  time  when 
it  had  been  passed  by  the  most  of  Western  Europe. 
The  spread  of  superstitious  usages  with  a  coating 
of  religion   was   in    no   wise   checked.      To   write 
amulets  (Kamea)  for  the  exorcism  of  diseases  was 
required  of  the  rabbis,  and  they  devoted  themselves 
to  this  work  ;  many  wished  to  be  thought  conjurors 
of  spirits.     A  rabbi,  Simon  Baki  at  Casale  in  Italy, 
complained   to   his    master,    the    foolish    Kabbalist 
Moses  Zacut  at  Venice,  that  he  had  used  the  pre- 
scribed formulas  of  conjuration  for  a  woman  at  Turin 
supposed   to  be  possessed,  without  any  successful 
result.     Thereupon  the  latter  gave  him  more  effi- 
cacious   means,  viz.,  whilst   using    God's    name    in 
prayer,  he  was  to  hold  burning  sulphur  to  the  nose 

2O2  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

of  the  possessed.  The  more  sensitive  she  was,  and 
the  more  she  struggled  against  the  remedy,  the 
more  might  he  be  convinced  that  she  was  possessed 
by  an  evil  spirit.  An  instructed  Jew  of  the  Kab 
balist  school  of  Damascus  once  boasted  seriously 
before  the  free-thinking  critic  Richard  Simon,  that 
he  could  evoke  a  genius  of  a  high  order,  and  began 
to  make  preparations.  The  incredulous  Father 
followed  his  movements  with  a  satirical  smile,  and 
the  conjuror  got  out  of  the  predicament  with  the 
remark  that  the  soil  of  France  was  not  suited  for 

To  elevate  Judaism  in  the  eyes  of  the  nations  and 
to  represent  it  in  a  manner  worthy  of  respect  was 
at  this  time  not  in  the  power  of  the  Jews.  They 
rather  degraded  and  made  it  contemptible.  Thought- 
ful Christians  stood  astonished  before  this  wonderful 
monument  of  history,  this  people  with  its  learning 
and  its  alternately  glorious  and  tragic  destiny  ;  but 
its  own  sons  were  too  dull  to  feel  their  own  great- 
ness, or  sought  it  only  in  silly  stories  and  absurd 
actions.  Whilst  Christians  industriously  and  with 
feelings  of  amazement  investigated  the  history  of 
the  Jews  during  three  thousand  years,  the  Jews  had 
no  such  feelinpf,  not  even  the  cultivated  Portuguese 

O  *  o 

Jews.  Manasseh  ben  Israel  had  outlined  a  history 
of  the  Jews,  and  probably  suggested  Basnage's 
work,  but  he  did  not  accomplish  his  own  design. 
Three  historians,  indeed,  are  named  as  belonging 
to  this  time — the  itinerant  rabbi  David  Conforte, 
secondly,  Miguel  (Daniel)  de  Barrios,  a  Marrano, 
born  in  Portugal,  who  returned  to  Judaism  at 
Amsterdam,  and  lastly  the  Polish  rabbi  Jechiel 
Heilperin,  of  Minsk.  But  all  three  resemble  the 
monkish  chroniclers  of  the  barbarous  ages,  and  their 
style  is  more  repulsive  than  attractive. 

If  literature  is  the  true  photograph  of  the  thoughts 
and  aspirations  of  an  age,  then  the  century  between 
Spinoza  and  Mendelssohn,  judged  by  its  literary 

CH.   VI.  LOPEZ    LACUNA.  203 

productions,  must  have  had  very  ugly  features.  A 
good  deal,  it  is  true,  was  written  and  published  ; 
every  rabbi  by  a  fresh  contribution  to  the  already 
stupendous  pile  of  Rabbinical  matter  essayed  to 
perpetuate  his  name,  to  secure  his  future  bliss,  and 
withal  to  earn  a  pittance.  Subtle  Rabbinical  com- 
mentaries, insipid  sermons,  and  books  of  devotion, 
acrimonious  controversial  writings  were  the  emana- 
tions of  the  Jewish  mind  or  lack  of  mind  at  this  time. 
The  flower  of  poetry  found  no  soil  in  this  quagmire. 
This  age  produced  only  two  Jewish  poets,  genuine 
sons  of  the  Jewish  muse,  who  lived  at  a  great  dis- 
tance from  each  other,  one  in  the  island  of  Jamaica, 
the  other  in  Italy — Lopez  Laguna  and  Luzzatto — 
as  if  the  old  Jewish  trunk,  crownless  and  leafless, 
wished  to  reveal  the  life  at  its  heart  and  prove  its 
capability  to  renew  its  youth  even  under  the  most 
unfavorable  circumstances.  Lopez  Laguna,  born  a 
Marrano  in  France  (about  1660,  died  after  1720), 
came  when  but  a  youth  to  Spain,  where  he  made  the 
acquaintance  of  the  horrible  Inquisition.  In  his 
night  of  suffering,  the  Psalms,  full  of  tender  feeling, 
brought  light  and  hope  to  him  as  to  so  many  of  his 
companions  in  sorrow.  Released  from  prison,  and 
having  escaped  to  Jamaica,  Laguna,  under  the  Jew- 
ish name  of  Daniel  Israel,  attuned  his  harp  to  the 
holy  songs  which  had  revived  his  soul.  To  make 
the  Psalms  accessible  to  others,  especially  to  Mar- 
ranos  ignorant  of  Hebrew,  he  made  a  faithful  trans- 


lation  of  them  into  melodious,  elegant  Spanish  verse. 
This  psalter,  "a  mirror  of  life,"  Daniel  Israel  Lopez 
Laguna  took  to  London,  where  his  work  procured 
him  a  triumphant  reception  from  several  minor 
poets  and  also  from  three  Jewish  poetesses,  Sarah 
de  Fonseca  Pinto  y  Pimentel,  Manuela  Nunez  da 
Almeida,  and  Bienvenida  Coen  Belmonte,  who 
addressed  him  in  Latin,  English,  Portuguese,  and 
Spanish  verses. 

Moses  Chayim  Luzzatto,  a  victim  to  the  dreary 

2O4  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

errors  of  this  time,  composed  two  Hebrew  dramas 
full  of  beauty  and  youthful  freshness.  With  the  ex- 
ception of  these  poetical  flowers  this  long  period 
shows  a  colorless  waste.  Daniel  de  Barrios,  cap- 
tain, historian,  and  beggar,  cannot  be  reckoned  a 
poet,  although  he  composed  an  astonishing  number 
of  Spanish,  as  well  as  Hebrew  rhymes,  besides  several 
Spanish  dramas,  and  he  sang  before,  and  without 
shame  begged  of,  nearly  every  Jewish  and  Christian 
magnate  who  possessed  a  full  purse. 

Not  only  the  scientific  and  artistic  spirit,  but  also 
the  moral  sense  was  lost,  or  at  least  blunted  in  this 
general   demoralization.     The  fundamental  virtues 
of  the  Jewish  race  continued  to  exist  even  at  this 
time  in  undiminished  strength — idyllic  family  love, 
brotherly  sympathy  towards  one  another,  and  chas- 
tity.    Gross  vices  and  crimes  occurred  even  then 
but  seldom  in  the  tents  of  Jacob.     Thoroughly  cor- 
rupt outcasts  were  considerate  enough  to  leave  it, 
and  to  pollute  the  church  or  the  mosque  with  their 
immorality.     But  the  feeling   of  right   and   honor 
amongst  Jews  was  on  the  whole  weakened.     There 
was  a  lowering  in  tone  of  that  tender  conscience, 
which  with  a  sort  of  maiden  shame  avoids  even  what 
the  precepts  of  religion  and  the  paragraphs  of  the 
civil  code  leave  unforbidden.     To  make  money  was 
so    imperious    a    necessity   that   ways   and    means 
became  indifferent,  and  were  not  exposed  to  censure. 
To    take  undue    advantage,  and  to   overreach,  not 
merely  a  hostile  population,  but  even  their  own  co- 
religionists, was  regarded  for  the  most  part  not  as 
a  disgrace,  but  rather  as  a  kind  of  heroic  action. 
From  this  sprang  worship  of  Mammon,  not  merely 
love,  but  also  respect  for  gold,  no  matter  how  impure 
its  source.     The  democratic  equality  hitherto  main- 
tained amongst  Jews,  who  refused  to  recognize  dis- 
tinctions of  class  and  caste,  was  lost  in  the  furious 
dance  round    the  golden  calf.     The  rich  man  was 


held  worthy    of  honor — one    to    whom   those    less 


kindly  favored  by  fortune  looked  up  as  to  something 
higher,  and  in  whom  they  therefore  overlooked 
many  failings.  The  richest,  not  the  most  worthy, 
were  made  the  managers  of  the  community,  and 
were  granted  a  charter  for  arbitrary  conduct 
and  arrogance.  A  satire  of  the  period  scourges 
very  severely  the  almighty  power  of  money,  to  which 
all  bowed  down.  "  The  dollar  binds  and  looses, 
it  raises  the  ignorant  to  the  chief  offices  in  the 

Increasing  poverty  among  Jews  was  partly  the 
cause  of  this  state  of  affairs.  Only  among  the  small 
number  of  Portuguese  Jews  at  Amsterdan,  Ham- 
burg, Leghorn,  Florence,  and  London,  there  were 
men  of  considerable  wealth.  Isaac  (Antonio) 
Suasso,  created  Baron  Alvernes  de  Gras  by  Charles 
II,  of  Spain,  was  able  to  advance  to  William  III,  for 
his  semi-adventurous  expedition  to  London  to  ob- 
tain the  English  crown,  two  million  florins  without 
interest,  with  the  simple  words,  "  If  you  are  for- 
tunate, you  will  repay  them  to  me ;  if  not,  I  am  wil- 
ling to  lose  them."  The  millionaires  at  Amsterdam 
were  the  Pintos,  the  Belmontes,  David  Bueno  de 
Mesquito,  Francisco  Melo,  who  rendered  many 
services  to  Holland  by  his  wealth.  One  of  the  De 
Pintos  bequeathed  several  millions  for  noble  objects, 
making  provision  for  Jewish  communities,  the  state, 
Christian  orphanages,  clergy,  clerks,  and  sextons. 
At  Hamburg  there  were  the  Texeiras,  who  were  re- 
lated by  marriage  to  Suasso,  and  Daniel  Abensur, 
able  to  make  large  advances  to  the  poor  rulers  of 
Poland.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Polish,  German, 
and  also  the  Italian  and  the  Oriental  Jews,  were  ex- 
tremely impoverished.  The  changes  which  com- 
merce had  experienced  brought  about  this  alteration. 
The  Jews  could  no  longer  practice  usury,  they  had 
no  capital,  or  rather  Christian  capitalists  competed 
with  them.  Poorest  of  all  were  the  Polish  Jews,— 
they  who  used  to  lord  it  over  all  the  Jews  in  Europe. 

2O6  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

They  could  not  recover  from  the  wounds  which  the 
Cossack  disturbances  had  inflicted  on  them,  and  the 
disruption  of  the  Polish  kingdom  that  followed 
caused  them  fresh  troubles.  The  increasing  poverty 
of  the  Polish  Jews  every  year  drove  swarms  of  beg- 
gars to  the  west  and  south  of  Europe.  They  re- 
sorted to  the  large  communities  to  procure  shelter 
and  food  from  their  rich  brethren.  Polish  students 
of  the  Talmud,  superior  to  all  other  Jews  in  knowl- 
edge of  the  Talmud,  went  principally  to  the  import- 
ant rabbinates,  Prague,  Nikolsburg,  Frankfort-on- 
the-Main,  Amsterdam,  and  Hamburg,  and  even  to 
Italian  communities.  Every  Polish  emigrant  was, 
or  proclaimed  himself  to  be,  a  rabbi  or  preacher,  and 
was  so  regarded.  Many  of  them  were  a  disgrace  to 
the  rabbinical  office,  for  which  they  had  no  qualifica- 
tions, either  mental  or  moral.  They  fawned  on  the 
rich  from  need  and  habit.  From  them  sprang  the 
ever-increasing  demoralization  among  Jews.  To 
their  care,  or  rather  to  their  neglect,  were  entrusted 
the  Jewish  youth,  who,  as  soon  as  they  could  talk, 
were  introduced  to  the  Talmud,  after  the  sophistical, 
artificial  method.  Through  this  perversity  the  lan- 
guage of  the  German  Jews,  like  that  of  the  Poles, 
degenerated  into  a  repulsive  stammer,  and  their 
manner  of  thinking  and  love  of  disputation  into 
crabbed  dogmatism  that  defied  all  logic.  Their  feel- 
ing for  simplicity  and  truth  was  lost,  and  even  the 
Portuguese  Jews,  who  kept  themselves  aloof  from 
the  odious  jargon,  did  not  remain  uncontaminated 
by  the  perverse  manner  of  thinking  prevalent  at  the 

Added  to  this  was  the  fact  that  the  mud-streams 
of  Sabbatian  fanaticism  burst  forth  afresh.  They 
besmirched  all  who  came  in  contact  with  them,  but, 
nevertheless,  they  were  regarded  as  a  pure  stream 
from  the  fountain-head  of  the  Deity.  Their  one 
good  effect  was  that  they  stirred  up,  and  set  in  mo- 
tion the  stagnant  swamp  ;  or,  to  speak  without  met- 


aphor,  the  sluggish  routine  in  which  the  Jews  lived 
was  broken,  and  the  rabbis,  dull  with  unfruitful  learn- 
ing, were  roused  to  a  certain  degree  of  passion  and 
energy.  After  Sabbatai's  death  one  of  his  follow- 
ers, Daniel  Israel  Bonafoux,  an  ignorant  officiating 
reader  (Chazan)  at  Smyrna,  kept  up  the  faith  in  the 
dead  Messiah  by  all  sorts  of  jugglery.  At  one  time 
he  pretended  to  have  seen  a  moving  fire-ball ;  at 
another,  to  have  heard  a  voice  say  that  Sabbatai 
was  still  alive,  and  would  reign  forever.  The  com- 
munity at  Smyrna  bribed  the  Kadi  to  banish  him 
from  the  city,  but  Daniel  Israel  took  up  his  residence 
in  the  neighborhood  of  Smyrna,  and  encouraged  the 
sect  to  persevere  in  its  belief.  He  was  aided  and 
abetted  by  Abraham  Michael  Cardoso  of  Tripoli, 
who  reappeared  on  this  stage,  where  he  found  a  con- 
venticle of  Sabbatian  associates,  who  flocked  round 
him,  because  with  his  scientific  education,  his  culture, 
and  fluency  of  speech,  he  was  far  superior  to  them. 
Cardoso  announced  dreams  and  visions,  declared 
himself  Sabbatai  Zevi's  successor,  the  Ephraimite 
Messiah,  practiced  extraordinary  impositions,  and 
visited  graves  to  be  inspired  by  departed  spirits,  and 
obtain  predictions  to  suit  his  theory.  This  consisted 
in  the  blasphemous  assumption  that  there  are  two 
Gods — one  the  First  Cause,  incomprehensible,  with- 
out will  and  influence  over  the  universe ;  the  other 
the  God  of  Israel,  the  actual  Creator  of  the  world, 
and  Lawgiver  of  the  Jewish  people,  who  alone  should 
be  worshiped.  But  the  rabbis  of  Smyrna  put  a  stop 
to  Cardoso's  proceedings,  threatened  him  with  death, 
and  compelled  him  to  leave  Sabbatai  Zevi's  birth- 
place. He  betook  himself  thence  to  Constantinople 
with  his  Smyrna  adherents,  later  pursued  his  mis- 
chievous behavior  at  Adrianople,  Rhodosto,  in  Egypt, 
the  Archipelago,  and  Candia  ;  now  as  Messiah,  now 
as  physician,  composed  numerous  treatises  on  the 
advent  of  the  Messianic  kingdom,  expounded  his 
theosophical-dualistic  theory,  incurred  debts,  drew 

2O8  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

women  into  his  Kabbalistic  conventicle,  and  is  said 
to  have  lived  immorally  even  to  old  age.  At  last 
Cardoso  was  stabbed  by  his  nephew,  who  believed 
that  he  had  been  cheated  by  him  (1706).  His  im- 
posture did  not  cease  with  his  death  ;  for  his  writ- 
ings, a  mixture  of  sense  and  nonsense,  were  eagerly 
read,  and  inflamed  men's  minds.  Abraham  Michael 
Cardoso  remained  at  least  faithful  to  Judaism,  did 
not  reverence  Sabbata'i  Zevi  as  divine,  vehemently 
contended  against  this  blasphemy,  and  did  not  go 
over  to  Mahometanism.  His  prophet,  Daniel  Israel 
Bonafoux,  on  the  other  hand,  assumed  the  turban, 
probably  on  account  of  the  persecution  suffered  at 
the  hands  of  the  rabbinate  of  Smyrna. 

Far  more  important  was  the  Kabbalistic  fanaticism 
spread  by  an  itinerant  Sabbatian  preacher,  and 
transplanted  to  Poland,  where  it  found  congenial 
soil,  and  maintained  its  ground  tenaciously.  Morde- 
cai  of  Eisenstadt  (Mochiach),  even  after  the  death 
of  the  renegade,  remained  his  faithful  follower.  A 
disciple  of  Nathan  and  partisan  of  Cardoso,  he  re- 
turned to  his  home  from  the  East,  was  of  preposses- 
sing appearance  and  awe-inspiring  features,  lived  an 
ascetic  life,  fasted  eleven  days  in  succession,  preached 
in  Hungary,  Moravia,  Bohemia,  and  Italy  with  much 
impressiveness  on  penitence  and  contrition — in  fact, 
played  the  part  of  a  Jewish  Vincent  Ferrer.  The 
applause  which  his  preaching  excited  awakened  his 
confidence,  and  he  gave  himself  out  as  a  prophet. 
In  word  and  writing  the  preacher  of  Eisenstadt 
maintained  that  Sabbata'i  Zevi  was  the  true  Messiah, 
obliged  to  become  a  Mussulman  by  high  mystical 
dispensation.  The  Hungarian,  Moravian,  and  Bo- 
hemian Jews  listened  to  these  Sabbatian  preachings 
and  prophecies  with  eager  interest.  The  Sabbatian 
frenzy  had  so  blunted  their  power  of  thought  that 
they  were  not  offended  at  the  notion  of  a  new  Mes- 
siah who  had  apostatized  from  Judaism.  Mordecai 
went  further  in  his  folly,  gave  himself  out  as  the  true 


Messiah  of  the  house  of  David,  and  maintained  that 
he  was  Sabbatai  Zevi  risen  from  the  dead.  The  lat- 
ter had  not  been  able  to  accomplish  the  work  of  re- 
demption, because  he  was  rich.  The  Messiah  must 
be  poor;  therefore  he,  Mordecai,  being  poor  and 
persecuted,  was  the  true  redeemer.  All  this  non- 
sense was  accepted  with  credulous  devotion.  Some 
Italian  Jews  formally  invited  the  Hungarian  Messiah 
to  come  to  them,  and  he  obeyed  the  summons.  At 
Modena  and  Reggio  he  was  received  with  enthusi- 
asm. He  talked  of  his  mission — that  he  must  go 
to  Rome  in  order  to  make  Messianic  preparations 
in  the  sinful  city.  He  cunningly  hinted  that  he  might 
be  obliged  to  assume  a  Christian  disguise,  as  Sab- 
batai Zevi  had  been  obliged  to  veil  himself  in  Turk- 
ish clothing :  that  is,  in  case  of  need  he  would  ap- 
parently submit  to  baptism.  Some  Jews  appear  to 
have  betrayed  his  plans  to  the  Roman  Inquisition, 
and  his  Italian  followers  advised  him  to  leave  Italy. 
He  went  once  more  to  Bohemia,  but  could  not  find 
a  footing  there,  and  emigrated  to  Poland.  Here, 
whither  only  a  dim  rumor  of  Sabbatai  and  the  Sab- 
batians  had  penetrated,  he  found,  it  appears,  numer- 
ous followers  ;  for  a  sect  was  formed  there  which 
pursued  its  baneful  career  until  the  beginning  of 
the  age  of  Mendelssohn,  and  even  beyond  that 

At  the  same  time  the  old  imposture  reappeared 
under  new  forms  in  Turkey.  Sabbatai  Zevi  had 
left  a  widow,  the  daughter  of  Joseph  Philosoph  of 
Salonica,  a  learned  Talmudist.  She  is  said  either 
from  ambition  or,  as  her  enemies  declared,  from 
licentious  motives,  to  have  led  the  Sabbatians  into 
fresh  frenzy.  Having  returned  to  Salonica,  she  is 
said  to  have  passed  off  her  brother,  Jacob  (surnamed 
Ouerido,  the  favorite),  as  her  son  by  Sabbatai  Zevi. 
This  boy,  who  received  the  name  of  Jacob  Zevi,  be- 
came an  object  of  devout  reverence  to  the  Sabba- 
tians, They  believed  that  in  him  the  united  souls 

2IO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

of  the  two  Messiahs  of  the  houses  of  Joseph  and 
David  were  born  again  ;  he  was  therefore  to  be  re- 
garded as  the  true  redeemer,  the  genuine  successor 
of  Sabbataii.  This  new  fantastic  idea  found  the  more 
adherents  because  Querido's  own  father,  Joseph 
Philosoph,  a  man  deeply  versed  in  the  Talmud,  and 
another  learned  Talmudist,  Solomon  Florentin, 
joined  the  believers,  and  supported  the  new  claim- 
ant. The  widow  of  the  Messiah  and  her  brother 
Ouerido  are  said  straightway  to  have  recommended 
and  practiced  sexual  indulgence  as  a  means  of  pro- 
moting the  work  of  redemption.  The  sinfulness  of 
the  world,  they  maintained,  could  be  overcome  only 
by  a  superabundance  of  sin,  by  the  extremest  degree 
of  licentiousness.  Among  these  Salonica  Sabba- 
tians,  then,  shameless  profligacy,  even  incest,  were 
openly  practiced — so  their  enemies  declared.  One 
thing  only  is  certain,  marriage  was  not  regarded  as 
sacred  among  these  people.  According  to  the  per- 
verse teachings  of  the  Luryan  school  of  Kabbalists, 
women  who  were  not  acceptable  to  their  husbands, 
being  a  hindrance  to  a  harmonious  mystical  marriage, 
could  be  divorced  without  further  ceremony,  and 
made  over  to  others,  who  felt  themselves  attracted 
to  them.  This  precept  was  only  too  eagerly  obeyed 
in  the  mystical  circle.  It  was  a  peculiar  sort  of 
"  elective  affinity."  Several  hundreds  in  Salonica 
belonged  to  this  Sabbatian  sect,  chiefly  young 
people.  Amongst  them  was  a  young  man  named 
Solomon  Ayllon,  afterwards  rabbi  in  London  and 
Amsterdam,  who  shared  in  the  prevailing  loose  life. 
He  married  a  wife,  as  the  one  appointed  by  heaven, 
whom  another  man  had  forsaken  without  formal  di- 
vorce, and  she  was  carried  off  from  him  by  a  third. 
The  Sabbatians  of  Salonica  stood  in  close  connec- 
tion with  other  members  of  the  sect  in  Adrianople 
and  Smyrna. 

The  rabbis  could   not  regard  this  disorder  with 
indifference,  and   denounced   the  offenders  to  the 

CH.  VI.  THE    DONMAH.  211 

Turkish  authorities.  The  latter  instituted  investi- 
gations, and  sentenced  them  to  severe  punishments. 
But  the  Sabbatians  had  learned  from  their  founder 
a  means  of  appeasing  the  anger  of  Turkish  rulers. 
They  all,  to  the  number  of  four  hundred  it  is  said, 
assumed  the  white  turban  (about  1687),  and  dis- 
played more  earnestness  than  Sabbatai  in  their 
newly-adopted  faith.  The  pseudo-Messiah  Jacob 
Zevi  Querido  with  many  of  his  followers  made  a  pil- 
grimage to  Mecca,  in  order  to  pray  at  the  tomb  of 
the  prophet  Mahomet.  On  the  journey  back  he 
died  at  Alexandria.  The  leadership  of  the  Turco- 
Jewish  sect  at  Salonica  was  afterwards  undertaken 
by  his  son  Berachya,  or  Barochya  (about  1695-1740). 
He  also  was  regarded  as  the  successor  of  Sabbatai 
Zevi,  as  the  embodiment  of  the  original  soul  of  the 
Messiah,  as  the  incarnate  Deity.  His  followers 
lived  under  the  name  Dolmah  (properly  Donmah), 
that  is,  apostates  from  Judaism,  a  sect  distinct  alike 
from  Jews  and  Turks,  who  married  only  one  another, 
and  attended  the  mosques  now  and  then,  but  more 
frequently  assembled  in  secret  for  their  own  mystical 
service,  to  worship  their  redeemer  and  man-God. 
There  are  still  in  Salonica  descendants  of  the  sect 
of  Sabbatat-Querido-Berachya,  who  observe  a 
mixture  of  Kabbalistic  and  Turkish  usages.  Of  Ju- 
daism they  retained  only  circumcision  on  the  eighth 
day  and  the  Song  of  Solomon,  the  love  dialogues  and 
monologues  of  which  left  them  free  play  for  mystical 
and  licentious  interpretations.  Recently  the  sultan 
granted  the  Donmah,  now  said  to  number  4,000 
members,  the  free  exercise  of  their  religion. 

In  spite,  perhaps  on  account  of  these  excesses  on 
the  part  of  the  Sabbatians  of  Salonica,  opposed 
alike  to  Judaism  and  morality,  they  continually 
found  fresh  supporters,  who  clung  to  the  delusion 
with  pertinacity,  deceived  themselves  and  others, 
and  gave  impostors  an  opportunity  to  profit  by  this 
fanatical  humor.  From  the  East  and  from  Poland 

212  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

secret  Sabbatians  crossed  to  and  fro,  from  the  latter 
as  itinerant  preachers,  from  the  former  as  pretended 
messengers  from  the  Holy  Land,  and  continually 
incited  to  fresh  errors.  The  emissary  Abraham 
Cuenqui,  from  Hebron,  who  in  Poland  and  Germany 
claimed  charity  for  the  poor  of  that  city,  at  the 
request  of  a  mystic  gave  a  glowing  description  of 
the  life  of  Sabbata'i,  whom  he  had  seen  and  admired 
in  his  youth.  This  biography,  a  sort  of  Sabbatian 
gospel,  is  an  excellent  example  of  how  in  the  field 
of  religion  history  takes  the  shape  of  myth,  and 
myth  again  transforms  itself  into  history.  In  Poland, 
probably  at  the  instigation  of  the  crazy  Mordecai  of 
Eisenstadt,  there  arose  a  Sabbatian  sect,  which 
believed  that  it  was  hastening  the  advent  of  the 
kingdom  of  heaven  by  penitence.  At  its  head 
stood  two  men,  Judah  Chassid  (the  pious)  of  Dubno, 
a  narrow-minded  simpleton,  and  Chayim  Malach,  a 
cunning  Talmudist.  Both  agitated  the  people  by 
exciting  sermons,  and  found  an  applauding  audience, 
who  joined  them  in  penances  and  Kabbalistic  ex- 
travagances. The  association  was  called  Chassidim. 
In  Poland  ignorance  was  so  great  that  the  rabbis 
themselves  did  not  recognize  the  power  and  mis- 
chievous tendency  of  these  Sabbatian  enthusiasts. 
From  1,300  to  1,500  of  this  sect,  under  Judah 
Chassid,  emigrated  from  Poland  at  the  beginning 
of  the  year  1 700,  intending  to  journey  to  the  Holy 
Land,  to  await  redemption  there.  Like  the  Chris- 
tian flagellants  of  old,  these  so-called  devotees 


distinguished  themselves  by  fasting  many  days,  and 
by  mortifications  of  every  kind.  The  leaders  wore 
on  the  Sabbath  white  garments  of  satin  or  cloth, 
whereby  they  intended  to  signify  the  time  of  grace. 
Wherever  they  went  in  Germany,  they  preached, 
and  exhorted  to  strict  penance.  Judah  Chassid  by 
his  powerful  voice,  his  gestures,  and  bitter  tears, 
carried  away  his  hearers.  He  wrought  especially 
upon  the  weak  minds  of  women,  to  whom,  contrary 

CH.  VI.  JUDAH    CHASSID.  213 

to  custom,  he  was  wont  to  preach,  with  a  Torah 
roll  under  his  arm,  in  the  women's  gallery.  While 
the  greater  number  of  the  Chassidim  were  assem- 


bling  in  Moravia  and  Hungary,  Judah  Chassid 
traveled  with  about  1 50  persons  through  Germany 
from  Altona  to  Frankfort-on-the-Main  and  Vienna, 
everywhere  preaching,  wailing,  and  warning.  The 
sect,  especially  in  the  larger  communities,  was  richly 
supported.  On  account  of  the  concourse  of  men 
and  women  who  flocked  to  these  sectarians,  the 
rabbis  did  not  venture  to  oppose  their  proceedings. 
Samuel  Oppenheim,  the  rich  court  Jew  at  Vienna, 
supported  the  Chassidim  richly,  and  procured  pass- 
ports for  them  to  the  East. 

The  enthusiasm  of  this  sect  soon  came  to  an  end. 
On  the  first  day  after  their  arrival  in  Jerusalem  their 
principal  leader  Judah  Chassid  died  ;  his  followers 
were  helpless,  and  instead  of  speedy  redemption 
found  only  horrible  misery.  Some  of  the  Chassidim, 
therefore,  disappointed  and  in  despair,  went  over  to 
Islam.  The  rest  dispersed  in  all  directions.  Many 
were  baptized  as  Christians,  amongst  them  Judah 
Chassid's  nephew,  Wolf  Levi  of  Lublin,  who  took 
the  name  of  Francis  Lothair  Philippi ;  another 
nephew,  Isaiah  Chassid,  afterwards  caused  fresh 
Sabbatian  disturbances.  Chayim  Malach,  however, 
who  made  the  acquaintance  of  the  aged  Samuel 
Primo,  Sabbataii  Zevi's  private  secretary  and  coun- 
selor, remained  for  several  years  in  Jerusalem,  and 
presided  over  a  small  Sabbatian  sect.  He  also 
taught  the  doctrine  of  two  Gods  or  three  Gods,  and 
of  the  Divine  incarnation,  paid  Sabbatai  Zevi  divine 
reverence,  and  is  said  to  have  carried  about  his 
image,  carved  in  wood,  in  the  synagogue,  to  be 
worshiped,  and  his  followers  are  said  to  have  danced 
round  it.  Chayim  Malach  aimed  at  the  destruction 
of  Rabbinical  Judaism  or  Judaism  in  general.  It  is 
incomprehensible  how  the  community  of  Jerusalem 
could  have  witnessed  his  proceedings  for  years 

214  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

without  opposing  them.  Probably  the  rabbis  there 
shared  the  Sabbatian  idolatry,  or  profited  by  it. 
However,  Chayim  Malach  seems  at  length  to  have 
been  banished  from  Jerusalem.  He  then  betook 
himself  to  the  Mahometan  Sabbatians  at  Salonica, 
the  Donmah,  took  part  in  their  extravagances,  then 
went  about  preaching  in  several  Turkish  communi- 
ties, and  openly  taught  the  Sabbatian  imposture. 
At  Constantinople  he  was  excommunicated,  and  on 
his  second  residence  in  that  community  was  banished 
by  Chacham  Bashi  (about  1709).  He  thereupon 
returned  through  Germany  to  Poland,  scattering  the 
seed  of  Sabbatian  heresy,  destined  to  undermine 
Judaism.  His  death  is  said  to  have  been  due  to 
excessive  drinking. 

At  the  same  time  that  Malach  was  sowing  seed- 
grains  in  Poland  for  the  process  of  dissolution,  the 
torch  of  discord  was  hurled  into  the  Jewish  camp  by 
two  disguised  Sabbatians,  Chayon  and  Ayllon. 
The  one  through  imposture,  the  other  through  stub- 
bornness and  dogmatism,  promoted  a  movement 
which  presents  very  unpleasant  features.  Solomon 
Ayllon  (born  about  1667,  died  1728),  of  Spanish 
descent,  was  born  at  Safet,  and  his  mind  was  filled 
with  the  errors  of  the  Kabbala.  In  his  youth  he  fell 
in  with  the  Sabbatians  of  Salonica,  and  in  part 
shared  their  extravagances.  Later  he  went  to 
Leghorn,  and  after  the  death  of  the  worthy  and 
accomplished  rabbi,  Jacob  Abendana,  was  invited  to 
London  to  fill  his  place  (1696-1707).  Ayllon  had 
enemies  in  London  who,  having  heard  of  his  not 
wholly  irreproachable  youth,  implored  one  rabbi 
after  another  to  procure  his  dismissal  from  office. 
From  dread  of  the  public  scandal  which  would  arise 
were  it  known  that  a  former  adherent  of  the  notori- 
ous Sabbata'i  had  officiated  as  rabbi,  all  who  were 
consulted  advised  that  the  ugly  story  be  forgotten. 
Ayllon  was  not  distinguished  in  any  branch  of 
learning,  not  even  in  knowledge  of  the  Talmud,  nor 


could  he  have  had  an  over-scrupulous  conscience. 
While  treating  for  the  post  of  rabbi  at  Amsterdam, 
the  London  community  being  unwilling  to  lose  him, 
he  swore  a  solemn  oath  that  he  would  not  accept 
the  post  offered  to  him,  although  he  had  already 
o-iven  his  consent  to  the  Amsterdam  council,  and 


actually  accepted  the  office.  He  palliated  his  con- 
duct in  a  sophistical  and  Jesuitical  manner.  His 
youthful  predilection  for  Sabbatian  errors,  which  he 
does  not  appear  entirely  to  have  abandoned  even 
as  rabbi  of  Amsterdam,  induced  Ayllon  to  give  his 
aid  to  an  arrant  rogue,  and  thereby  to  help  in 
producing  profound  dissensions  in  the  Jewish  world. 
This  arch-impostor,  who  in  hypocrisy,  audacity, 
and  unscrupulousness  had  but  few  equals  in  the 
eighteenth  century,  so  rich  in  impostors,  was 
Nehemiah  Chiya  Chayon  (born  about  1650,  died 
after  1726).  He  took  especial  delight  in  mystifica- 
tion and  extravagances,  and  from  his  youth  led  an 
adventurous,  easy  life  of  dissimulation.  The  career 
of  this  Kabbalistic  adventurer  is  characteristic  of  the 
demoralization  of  the  age  in  various  ways.  Chayon 
received  his  Talmudical  instruction  at  Hebron, 
where  the  Sabbatian  intoxication  had  made  many 
victims.  He  possessed  considerable  logical  acute- 
ness,  was  ready  at  discovering  contradictions  and 
incongruities  ;  but  his  giddy  brain  and  cold  heart, 
bent  on  the  satisfaction  of  low  cravings,  induced  him 
to  make  corrupt  use  of  his  powers.  Of  the  Talmud 
and  Rabbinical  literature  he  understood  enough  to 


be  able  to  appear  at  home  in  them,  but  he  had  no 
real  attraction  to  these  studies,  nor  any  religious 
feeling.  He  was  observant  from  hypocrisy  ;  when 
not  watched,  he  disregarded  the  demands  of  religion 

^j  ^> 

and  morality.  He  could  assume  a  serious,  awe- 
inspiring  manner,  and  held  men  enthralled  by  his 
attractive  appearance,  his  Kabbalistic  scraps,  and 
his  mysterious  demeanor.  He  generally  enacted 
the  part  of  a  saint,  at  the  same  time  singing  love- 

2l6  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VL 

songs  and  associating  with  women.  He  was,  as  he 
himself  confessed,  in  close  relation  with  the  Sabba- 
tians  at  Salonica,  and  had  taken  trouble  to  get 
possession  of  their  writings.  He  frequently  con- 
versed with  their  leader,  Samuel  Primo,  about 
Kabbalistic  projects.  It  is  said  that  in  one  of  these 
interviews  he  proposed  a  new  doctrine  of  a  Trinity. 
He  composed  a  work  in  which  he  maintained  that 
Judaism,  to  be  sure  Kabbalistic  Judaism,  inculcated 
belief  in  a  triune  God.  With  this  manuscript  in  his 
otherwise  empty  coffer  he  went  to  Smyrna,  in  the 
spring  of  the  year  1 708,  intending  to  seek  his  fortune 
either  with  the  Sabbatians  or  with  their  opponents. 
He  did,  in  fact,  succeed  in  hoodwinking  some  rich 
men  of  Smyrna.  His  patrons  pledged  themselves 
mutually  and  to  Chayon  to  give  him  powerful 
support.  The  arch-rogue  was  treated  at  Smyrna 
as  a  holy  prophet,  and  nearly  the  whole  community 
escorted  him  to  the  ship  which  was  to  convey  him 
back  to  Palestine.  His  schemes  were  for  the 
moment  crowned  with  success.  But  before  Chayon 
could  settle  down,  the  rabbinate  of  Jerusalem 
launched  a  sentence  of  excommunication  against 
him,  condemned  his  work,  which  they  had  not  even 
read,  to  be  burned  (June  1708),  and  refused  to  give 
a  hearing  to  the  author.  This  gross  blunder  re- 
venged itself  afterwards.  For  the  moment,  how- 
ever, Chayon  was  defeated.  As  one  formally  inter- 
dicted by  the  chief  college  in  Palestine,  he  could  not 
settle  anywhere.  The  enthusiasm  of  his  patrons  in 
Smyrna  was  extinguished  as  quickly  as  it  had  blazed 
up,  for  the  favor  of  men  is  changeable. 

Thus  Chayon  after  a  few  days  of  good  fortune 
was  again  reduced  to  mendicancy.  In  Italy,  whither 
he  had  gone  after  leaving  Egypt,  and  where  he 
spent  some  years  begging  (1709-171 1),  his  schemes 
met  with  little  sympathy.  At  Venice  only  he  met 
with  some  consideration  from  rabbis  and  the 
laity.  Here  he  printed  a  small  pamphlet,  an  extract 

CH.  VI.  DAVID    OPPENHEIM.  2 1/ 

from  his  larger  work,  wherein  he  openly  set  forth 
the  Trinity  as  an  article  of  the  Jewish  faith,  not  the 
Christian  Trinity,  but  three  persons  (Parzufim)  in 
the  Godhead,  the  holy  Primeval  One,  or  Soul  of  all 
Souls,  the  Holy  King,  or  incarnation  of  Deity,  and 
a  female  Person  (the  Shechina).  This  nonsense,  an 
insult  to  Judaism  and  its  conception  of  God,  was 
repeated  by  Chayon  in  doggerel,  which  he  recom- 
mended as  edifying  prayers  for  the  especially  pious. 
Bold  and  venturesome,  he  interwove  with  the  first 
verses  the  words  of  a  low  Italian  song,  "  Fair  Mar- 
garet." And  this  blasphemous  pamphlet  ("  Secret 
of  the  Trinity,"  "  Raza  di  Yechuda  ")  was  accepted 
and  recommended  by  the  rabbinate  of  Venice,  either 
because  they  had  not  seen  it  before  it  was  printed, 
or  because  by  reason  of  Kabbalistic  stupidity  they 
did  not  perceive  its  drift.  Chayon  did  not  stay  long 
at  Venice.  He  betook  himself  to  Prague,  where  he 
found  credulous  faith,  favorable  to  his  work  of  decep- 
tion. The  leaders  of  the  community,  old  and  young 
rabbis  and  students  of  the  Talmud,  were  all  filled 
with  it. 

David  Oppenheim,  chief  rabbi  of  Prague,  more 
famous  for  his  rich  collection  of  books  than  on 
account  of  his  deeds  and  literary  work,  was  an 
inveterate  Kabbalist.  To  be  sure  he  had  no  leisure 
to  concern  himself  about  the  itinerant  preacher 
Chayon,  or  the  affairs  of  the  community  and  the 
interest  of  Judaism.  He  needed  his  time  for  money 
transactions  with  the  funds  which,  tog-ether  with  a 


considerable  library,  his  rich  uncle  at  Vienna,  Samuel 
Oppenheim,  had  left  him.  David  Oppenheim,  there- 
fore, seldom  met  Chayon  ;  but  his  son  Joseph,  who 
was  enchanted  with  his  Kabbalistic  juggling,  took 
him  into  his  house.  He  was  well  received  also  by 
the  Kabbalistic  rabbi,  Naphtali  Cohen,  who  was 
then  living  at  Prague,  and  whose  thaumaturgy  had 
cost  him  dear.  And  if  the  house  of  Oppenheim, 
and  Naphtali  Cohen  paid  him  homage,  who  would 

2l8  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

fail  to  exert  himself  for  the  pretended  preacher  or 
emissary  from  Palestine,  as  Chayon  professed  to 
be  ?  No  wonder  that  industrious  youthful  students 
of  the  Talmud,  thirsting  for  knowledge,  thronged  to 
Chayon  !  Among  these  was  Jonathan  Eibeschutz, 
afterwards  so  notorious,  who  was  living  at  that  time 
in  Prague.  Chayon  preached  sermons  at  Prague,  and 
entranced  his  hearers  by  his  sophistical  and  witty 
manner,  which  made  the  most  inconsistent  things 
appear  reconcilable.  Now  and  then  he  allowed  the 
erroneous  doctrine  of  the  Salonica  Sabbatians  to 
crop  out,  viz.,  that  sin  can  be  overcome  only  by  a 
superabundance  of  sinfulness,  by  the  satisfaction  of 
all,  even  the  most  wicked,  desires,  and  by  the  trans- 
gression of  the  Torah.  He  told  his  Prague  adherents, 
or  caused  it  to  be  circulated  by  his  Venetian  com- 
panion, that  he  conversed  with  the  prophet  Elijah, 
that  he  could  compel  the  Godhead  to  reveal  itself  to 
him,  and  that  he  was  able  to  call  the  dead  to  life  and 
to  create  new  worlds — all  of  which  found  credence. 
He  wrote  amulets,  which  were  eagerly  sought  after, 
and  at  the  same  time  in  secret  led  a  profligate  life. 
The  money  derived  from  imposture  he  wasted  in 
card-playing.  At  last  he  ventured  to  submit  his 
heretical  work,  his  Sabbatian  confession  of  faith  in 
the  Trinity,  to  Naphtali  Cohen  for  his  opinion,  and 
showed  him  forged  testimonials  from  Italian  rabbis. 
From  admiration  for  Chayon's  person  Naphtali 
Cohen,  without  even  having  o-lanced  at  the  manu- 

fj      o 

script,  expressed  not  simply  his  approval,  but  gave 
him  a  glowing  recommendation — a  careless  habit 
characteristic  of  the  rabbis  of  that  time,  which  on 
this  occasion  was  destined  to  revenge  itself  bitterly. 
Provided  with  forged  and  filched  recommendations, 
Chayon  deceived  many  other  communities,  those  of 
Vienna,  Nikolsburg,  Prosnitz,  Breslau,  Glogau,  and 
Berlin.  He  succeeded  in  passing  himself  off  as  a 
prophet  before  the  credulous  German  Jews,  and  in 
being  maintained  by  them.  Secretly  he  entered 

CH.   VI.  CHAYON    IN    BERLIN.  2 19 

into  close  relations  with  a  Sabbatian  enthusiast  or 
impostor,  Lobele  Prosnitz,  who  cut  out  the  four  He- 
brew letters  of  the  name  of  God  in  gold  tinsel,  stuck 
it  on  his  breast,  and  made  it  shine  before  the  dazzled 
eyes  of  the  credulous  by  means  of  burning-  alcohol 
and  turpentine.     Like  savages,  the  Moravian  Jews 
gazed   at    Lobele    Prosnitz's  alcohol    miracle.     At 
Berlin,  where  Chayon  spent  several  months,  he  en- 
joyed the  best  opportunity  to  fish  in  troubled  waters. 
The  community  of  Berlin,  increased  to  more  than  a 
hundred  families,  had  fallen  into  disunion,  apparently 
through  two  mutually  hostile  families  at  court.     The 
widow  of  the  court  jeweler,  Liebmann,  was  a  favorite 
of  King  Frederick  I,  and  was  therefore  disliked  by 
the  crown  prince,  afterwards  Frederick  William  I. 
The  latter  had  his  own  Jew  in  attendance,  Marcus 
Magnus,  the  mortal  enemy  of  the  house  of  Liebmann, 
not  merely  from  complaisance  to  the   successor  to 
the  throne.     The    feud   between    the    two    Jewish 
houses  in  Berlin  spread  to  the  whole  community, 
divided  it  into  two  parties,  and  affected  even  the 
synagogue.     When  the  fire  of  faction  burned  most 
furiously,  Chayon  came  to  Berlin,  and  turned  the 
quarrel  to  his  own  advantage.     He  joined  the  Lieb- 
mann party,  which,  though  the  weaker  of  the  two, 
was  rich,  and  therefore  more  willing  to  make  sacri- 
fices.    The  rabbi  of  Berlin,  Aaron  Benjamin  Wolf, 
son-in-law  of  the  court  Jewess  Liebmann,  a  simple 
fellow,  treated  Chayon  with  honorable  distinction. 
Naphtali  Cohen,  who  had  come  to  Berlin,  could  have 
unmasked  Chayon,  but  was  afraid,  as  he  said,  to  in- 
flame the  quarrel  still  further.    Thus  Chayon  without 
molestation  was  able  in  Berlin  to  print  his  heretical 
book,  with  which  he  had  begun  his  mischievous  pro- 
ceedings five  years  before  at  Smyrna.     He  gave  his 
work  the  artful  title,  "The  Belief  of  the  Universe" 
("  Mehemenuta  de  Cola  ").     The  main  text,  the  pro- 
duction of  a  Sabbatian  (some  thought  of  Sabbatai 
Zevi  himself),  proclaims  the  "holy  king,"  the  Mes- 

22O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

siah,  the  incarnate  Deity,  as  the  God  of  Israel,  and 
as  the  exclusive  object  of  reverence  and  worship. 
Chayon  added  two  sophistical  commentaries,  wherein 
he  proved  in  various  ways  that  the  God  of  Judaism 
was  the  Trinity.  In  the  prayer,  "  Hear,  O  Israel, 
God  is  one,"  every  Jew  must  needs  think  of  this 
Trinity,  otherwise  he  cannot  attain  to  salvation, 
even  if  he  fulfills  all  religious  and  moral  duties.  This 
belief  alone  can  make  a  man  certain  of  bliss.  So 
low  had  Judaism  sunk,  that  such  blasphemy  was 
printed  before  the  eyes  and  with  the  consent  of  a 
rabbi — Aaron  Benjamin  Wolf,  at  Berlin — probably 
at  the  expense  of  the  Liebmann  party  !  Chayon 
had  the  audacity  to  order  forged  testimonials  of 
rabbis  to  be  prefixed,  as  though  they  had  read  the 
book  and  recommended  it.  With  this  work  he 
hastened  by  way  of  Hamburg  to  Amsterdam,  to 
make  his  fortune  in  that  Jewish  Eldorado,  and  thus 
schism  was  introduced  into  the  Jewish  world. 

The  community  of  Amsterdam  had  been  suffi- 
ciently warned  of  the  machinations  of  the  Sabbatians. 
The  Jerusalem  rabbi,  Abraham  Yizchaki,  who  had 
been  appointed  an  emissary  to  collect  alms,  behaved 
like  a  papal  legate,  invested  with  supremacy  over 
everything  religious,  and  like  a  grand  inquisitor  com- 
missioned to  destroy  the  heresy  which  had  been  gain- 
ing ground.  At  Smyrna  the  heretical  writings  of 
the  fanatic  Abraham  Michael  Cardoso  were  in  the 
hands  of  a  few  secret  Sabbatians.  At  Yizchaki's 
suggestion  these  had  to  be  given  up  by  their  owners 
under  threat  of  excommunication  and  severe  tem- 
poral punishment,  and  they  were  burned.  The  com- 
munity of  Smyrna  thereby  felt  itself  freed  from  a 
heavy  burden,  and  was  thankful  to  its  liberator. 
Yizchaki  had  also  come  to  Amsterdam,  and  had 
warned  the  rabbis  and  the  communal  council  against 
Sabbatian  emissaries,  and  drew  attention  to  the  hint 
of  the  Smyrna  rabbinate,  that  a  secret  Sabbatian 
was  on  his  way  to  print  Cardoso's  writings.  In  fact 

CH.  VI.  CHACHAM    ZEVI.  221 

a  Sabbatian  emissary  did  come  to  Amsterdam  for 
that  purpose.  Chayon  at  first  conducted  himself 
modestly,  and  affiliated  with  the  Portuguese.  He 
presented  the  council  with  a  copy  of  his  work  on  the 
Trinity  printed  at  Berlin,  in  order  to  obtain  leave  to 
sell  it.  He  appears  to  have  passed  himself  off  as 
an  emissary  from  Palestine.  Hereupon  bickerings 
arose,  which  began  with  personal  feeling  and  ended 
in  wide-spread  dissension. 

The  rabbi  of  the  German  community,  Zevi  Ash- 
kenazi,  called  Chacham  Zevi,  was  much  excited  at  the 
news  of  Chayon's  presence  in  Amsterdam.  This 
man,  whose  father  had  belonged  to  the  most  zealous 
Sabbatians,  while  he  himself  and  his  son,  Jacob  Em- 
den,  were  destined  to  fight  against  them  with  vehe- 
ment zeal,  was  gifted  with  a  clear  head,  and  combined 
thoroughness  with  acuteness  in  the  study  of  the  Tal- 
mud. In  his  eighteenth  year  he  had  been  consulted 
as  an  expert  in  the  Talmud.  Pampered,  sought 
after,  married  while  young  to  the  daughter  of  a  rich 
man  at  Buda  and  thereby  rendered  independent,  he 
became  proud,  self-conscious,  and  vain  of  his  knowl- 
edge of  the  Talmud.  On  account  of  his  Talmudical 
learning  he  was  invited  to  be  chief  rabbi  of  the  Ger- 
man community  at  Amsterdam  (1710);  he  preferred 
to  be  called  Chacham.  Here  he  looked  down  with 
great  contempt  upon  his  Portuguese  colleagues, 
especially  upon  Solomon  Ayllon,  and  would  never 
regard  him  as  his  equal  in  rank.  "  Chacham  Zevi 
wishes  to  rank  higher  even  than  the  prophet 
Moses,"  was  the  judgment  passed  upon  him  by 

As  soon  as  the  name  of  Chayon  reached  the  ears 
of  the  German  Chacham,  he  connected  it  with  a 
former  enemy  of  his  at  Bosna-Serai  in  Bosnia,  where 
Zevi  had  been  rabbi  for  a  short  time,  and  he  imme- 
diately intimated  to  the  Portuguese  authorities  that 
it  would  be  wise  to  show  no  sort  of  favor  to  the 
stranger,  as  he  was  a  man  of  evil  notoriety.  Nehe- 

222  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VI. 

miah  Chayon  explained  that  the  mistake  in  his  iden- 
tity was  caused  by  similarity  of  names,  and  behaved 
so  very  humbly  towards  Chacham  Zevi,  that  the  lat- 
ter soon  informed  the  council  that  he  had  nothing 
to  urge  against  the  stranger,  whose  identity  he  had 
mistaken.  Chayon  appeared  to  have  removed  ev- 
ery obstacle  from  his  path  at  Amsterdam,  when 
Moses  Chages,  of  Jerusalem,  who  was  in  Holland, 
sounded  the  alarm  against  him,  perhaps  because  he 
feared  him  as  a  Palestinian  rival.  The  heretical 
work  printed  at  Berlin  was  put  before  him  for  exam- 
ination, as  some  members  of  the  council  did  not  trust 
their  Chacham  Ayllon.  Scarcely  had  he  looked  into 
it,  when  he  raised  the  cry  of  heresy.  In  fact,  it  did 
not  need  lengthy  search  in  the  book  to  find  an  ex- 
plicit enunciation  of  the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity. 
The  German  Chacham,  having  had  his  attention 
drawn  by  Moses  Chages  to  Chayon's  suspicious 
doctrine,  again  notified,  almost  ordered,  the  Portu- 
guese council,  to  banish  instead  of  favoring  the 
stranger.  The  council,  not  disposed  to  accept  such 
abrupt  orders,  requested  Chacham  Zevi  either  to 
point  out  the  heretical  passages  in  Chayon's  book, 
or  to  join  with  some  members  nominated  by  the 
council  as  a  committee  to  examine  it.  Chacham 
Zevi,  at  the  advice  of  Chages,  rejected  both  pro- 
posals flatly,  saying  that  as  rabbi  he  was  not  obliged 
to  bring  forward  proofs,  but  simply  to  pronounce 
final  judgment.  Still  less  did  he  choose  to  take 
council  with  Ayllon,  as  this  would  have  been  tanta- 
mount to  recognizing  him  as  a  Talmudist  of  equal 
rank  with  himself.  The  haughty  behavior  of  the 
Chacham,  on  the  one  hand,  and  Ayllon's  sensitive- 
ness, on  the  other,  kindled  a  spark  into  a  bright 

The  Portuguese  Chacham  had  reason  to  feel  him- 
self slighted  and  to  complain.  His  own  congrega- 
tion had  passed  him  over  in  this  matter,  shown  dis- 
trust towards  him,  and  set  his  opponent  over  him 

CH.  VI.  SOLOMON    AYLLON.  223 

as  a  higher  authority.  Besides,  he  appears  to  have 
feared  the  cunning  adventurer,  who  if  persecuted 
might  reveal  more  than  was  desirable  of  Ayllon's 
past  history  and  relations  to  the  Salonica  heretics. 
He  felt  it  his  interest  to  remain  on  Chayon's  side 
and  protect  him  against  the  threatened  banishment 
from  Amsterdam.  It  was  not  difficult  for  him  to 
prejudice  a  member  of  the  Portuguese  council, 
Aaron  de  Pinto,  a  resolute,  unbending,  hard  man, 
indifferent  to  spiritual  problems,  against  the  German 
Chacham,  and  persuade  him  of  his  duty  to  guard 
the  independence  of  the  old,  respectable,  and  superi- 
or Portuguese,  against  the  presumptuousness  of  the 
hitherto  subordinate  German,  community.  Ayllon 
converted  the  important  question  of  orthodoxy  and 
heresy  into  one  of  precedence  between  the  com- 
munities. De  Pinto  treated  the  affair  in  this  light, 
and  the  other  members  of  the  council  conformed  to 
his  resolute  will.  He  straightway  rejected  the  in- 
terference of  the  German  Chacham  in  an  affair  of 
concern  only  to  the  Portuguese  community,  broke 
off  all  negotiations  with  him,  and  commissioned 
Ayllon  to  appoint  a  committee  of  Portuguese  to  ex- 
amine and  report  on  Chayon's  work.  Ayllon  added 
to  the  college  of  rabbis  four  men,  of  whom  only  one 
understood  the  question.  This  one  hesitated  to 
join  the  committee,  but  was  compelled  to  do  so. 
The  others  were  totally  ignorant  of  theology,  and 
accordingly  dependent  on  Ayllon's  judgment. 
Ayllon  and  the  council,  that  is,  Pinto,  made  the 
members  of  the  committee  swear  to  let  no  one  see 
the  copies  of  Chayon's  work  handed  to  them  for 
examination,  in  fact,  to  keep  everything  secret  until 
the  final  judgment  was  pronounced.  The  petty 
question  of  tolerating  or  expelling  a  begging  adven- 
turer thus  attained  great  importance. 

Whilst  the  Portuguese  committee  was  still  appar- 
ently engaged  in  the  business  of  examination,  Cha- 
cham Zevi,  in  conjunction  with  Moses  Chages, 

224  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VI 

hastened  to  pronounce  sentence  of  excommunication 
against  Chayon  and  his  heretical  book,  because  "  he 
sought  to  draw  Israel  away  from  his  God  and  to  in- 
troduce strange  gods  (the  Trinity)."  No  one  was 
to  have  dealings  with  the  author  until  he  recanted 
his  error.  His  writings  in  any  case  were  to  be  com- 
mitted to  the  flames.  This  sentence  of  condemna- 
tion was  printed  in  Hebrew  and  Portuguese,  and 
circulated  as  a  pamphlet.  A  great  portion  of  the 
objections  raised  by  these  two  zealots  against  Chay- 
on's  writings  was  equally  applicable  to  the  Zohar 
and  other  Kabbalistic  books.  Short-sighted  as  they 
were,  they  saw  only  the  evil  consequences  of  the 
Kabbalistic  errors,  not  their  original  cause. 

Great  was  the  excitement  of  the  Jews  of  Amster- 
dam over  this  step.  Chacham  Zevi  and  Moses 
Chages  were  affronted  and  abused  in  the  streets  by 
Portuguese  Jews,  and  it  was  asserted  that  Ayllon 
employed  disreputable  people  for  this  purpose. 
When  Chages  appeared  the  rabble  shouted,  "  Stone 
him,  slay  him."  Attempts  at  reconciliation  failed  ; 
partly  through  the  dogmatism  of  Ayllon,  who  re- 
fused to  admit  himself  wrong,  partly  through  the 
firmness  of  De  Pinto,  who  simply  had  in  view  the 
dignity  of  the  Portuguese  community.  Pamphlets 
increased  the  bitter  feeling. 

The  quarrel  of  the  Amsterdam  Jews  made  a  great 
stir  elsewhere,  and  was  the  cause  of  party  strife. 
Ayllon  and  De  Pinto  forbade  the  members  of  their 
community,  under  threat  of  excommunication,  to 
read  pamphlets,  or  to  express  themselves  either 
verbally  or  in  writing  upon  the  matter.  They  also 
hastened  the  delivery  of  the  verdict,  which,  however, 
was  drawn  up  by  Ayllon  alone.  It  declared,  in  di- 
rect opposition  to  the  decision  of  Chacham  Zevi  and 
Chages,  that  Chayon's  work  taught  nothing  offensive 
or  dangerous  to  Judaism  ;  it  contained  only  the  doc- 
trines found  in  other  Kabbalistic  writings.  It  was 
officially  made  known  in  the  synagogues  (August 


14,  1713)  that  Chayon  was  acquitted  of  the  charge 
of  heresy  brought  against  him,  and  that  he  had  been 
innocently  persecuted.  The  day  after,  the  original 
cause  of  the  strife  was  carried  in  triumph  into  the 
Portuguese  chief  synagogue,  and  to  the  vexation 
of  his  opponents,  almost  worshiped.  The  false 
prophet,  who  had  openly  declared,  "  Come,  let  us 
worship  false  gods,"  was  loaded  with  homage  by  the 
Portuguese  who  had  staked  life  and  property  for  the 
unity  of  God.  They  cheered  Chayon  in  the  syna- 
gogue, and  cried  "  Down  with  his  adversaries."  In 
secret  Chayon  probably  laughed  at  the  complications 
he  had  caused,  and  at  the  credulity  of  the  multitude. 
De  Pinto  took  care  that  Chacham  Zevi  should  not 
be  supported  by  his  own  German  community,  but 
should  be  left  exposed,  without  protection,  to  the 
rough  treatment  of  his  opponents.  He  found  him- 
self entirely  isolated,  almost  like  a  person  under 

But  help  came  to  Chacham  Zevi  from  without. 
The  rabbis  whose  pretended  letters  of  recommen- 
dation Chayon  had  prefixed  to  his  work  declared 
them  to  be  forged.  The  deepest  impression  was 
made  by  the  letters  of  the  highly  respected,  aged 
rabbi  of  Mantua,  Leon  Brieli,  who,  well  acquainted 
with  the  past  history  of  the  impostor,  unmasked  him, 
and  approved  of  the  sentence  of  condemnation 
against  his  heretical  book.  Brieli  wrote  urgently 
to  the  Amsterdam  council,  and  to  Ayllon,  in  Hebrew 
and  Italian,  imploring  them  not  to  lend  their  author- 
ity to  so  bad  a  cause.  But  they  remained  stubborn, 
answered  him  politely,  yet  evasively.  The  quarrel 
rose  higher  every  day  in  the  Amsterdam  community; 
every  one  took  one  side  or  the  other,  defending 
his  view  with  bitterness,  passion,  and  frequently  with 
vigorous  action.  Peace  vanished  from  this  pattern 
community^  and  dissension  was  carried  into  family 
life.  Matters  had  gone  so  far  that  the  leaders 
could  not  yield.  Ayllon  and  De  Pinto  went  to 

226  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

greater  lengths  in  their  obstinacy.  They  suggested 
that  the  Portuguese  council  summon  Chacham  Zevi, 
the  rabbi  of  the  German  community  (over  whom  it 
had  no  authority  whatever),  before  its  tribunal,  with 
the  intention  of  shaming  him  or  of  inducing  him  to 
recant.  When  he  paid  no  heed,  it  laid  him  and 
Moses  Chages  under  the  ban,  most  strictly  forbid- 
ding the  members  of  the  community  to  have  dealings 
with  them,  protect  them,  or  intercede  for  them  with 
the  civic  authorities. 

As  though  the  council  and  the  rabbinate  had  been 
infected  by  Chayon's  baseness,  they  committed  one 
meanness  after  another.  In  justification  of  their 
course  of  action  they  distorted  the  actual  state  of 
the  case,  and  made  use  of  notorious  falsehoods. 
They  encouraged,  or  at  least  countenanced,  Chayon 
in  calumniating  his  opponents  with  the  vilest  and 
most  revolting  aspersions,  not  only  Chacham  Zevi 
and  Chages,  but  even  the  wise  and  venerable  rabbi, 
Leon  Brieli,  and  supported  Chayon  in  all  his  audac- 
ities. The  Portuguese  council  and  the  rabbinate, 
or  rather  De  Pinto  and  Ayllon,  for  their  colleagues 
were  mere  puppets,  persecuted  Chayon's  opponents 
as  though  they  were  lost  to  all  feeling  of  right. 
With  Moses  Chages  they  had  an  easy  game.  He 
lived  on  the  Portuguese  community  ;  and  when  they 
withdrew  the  means  of  sustenance,  he  was  com- 
pelled to  leave  Amsterdam  with  his  helpless  family 
and  migrate  to  Altona.  They  also  pressed  Chacham 
Zevi  hard,  annoyed  him,  accused  him  before  the  civil 
authorities,  and  prevented  any  one's  assisting  him. 
He,  too,  left  Amsterdam,  either  De  Pinto  procuring 
his  banishment  at  the  hands  of  the  magistrates,  or 
Chacham  Zevi,  in  order  to  anticipate  scandalous 
expulsion,  going  into  banishment  of  his  own  accord. 
He  repaired  to  London,  in  the  first  instance,  then 
by  way  of  Breslau  to  Poland,  and  was  everywhere 
honorably  received  and  treated. 

His  opponents,  Chayon,  Ayllon,  and  De  Pinto,  were 


not  able  to  enjoy  the  fruits  of  their  victory.  The 
apparently  trivial  dispute  had  assumed  large  dimen- 
sions. Almost  all  the  German,  Italian,  Polish,  and 
even  some  African  communities  with  their  rabbis 
espoused  the  cause  of  the  persecuted  Chacham  Zevi, 
and  hurled  sentences  of  excommunication  upon  the 
unscrupulous  heretic.  These  anathemas  were  pub- 
lished, and  unsparingly  revealed  Chayon's  villainy, 
bringing  to  light  the  sentence  passed  upon  him 
years  before  at  Jerusalem.  The  exposure  of  his 
character  by  witnesses  who  came  from  countries 
where  his  past  history  was  well  known,  contributed 
to  ruin  the  false  prophet  of  the  new  Trinity. 

But  the  Portuguese  of  Amsterdam,  or  at  least 
their  leaders,  would  not  drop  him,  either  because 
they  believed  his  audacious  lies  or  from  a  sense  of 
shame  and  obstinacy.  They  saw  clearly,  however, 
that  Chayon  must  take  steps  to  calm  the  storm 
raised  against  him.  They  therefore  favored  his 
journey  to  the  East,  providing  him  with  money  and 
recommendations  to  influential  Jews  and  Christians, 
who  were  to  aid  him  in  loosing  the  ban  passed  upon 
him  in  the  Turkish  capital.  But  the  journey  proved 
full  of  thorns  for  Chayon  ;  no  Jew  admitted  him  into 
his  house,  or  gave  him  entertainment.  Like  Cain, 
curse-laden,  he  was  obliged  to  flee  from  place  to 
place  in  Europe.  At  last  he  had  to  take  ship  in 
haste  to  Constantinople.  He  was  followed  by  fresh 
accusations  of  heresy,  not  only  from  Chages  and 
Naphtali  Cohen,  but  also  from  the  highly  esteemed 
Kabbalist  Joseph  Ergas,  and  the  London  preacher 
David  Nieto,  who  calmly  exposed,  in  Hebrew  and 
Spanish,  the  heresy,  falsehood,  and  villainy  of  this 
hypocritical  Sabbatian. 

At  Constantinople  Chayon  was  avoided  by  the 
Jews,  and  treated  as  an  outcast ;  but  his  Amsterdam 
letters  of  recommendation  paved  the  way  for  him 
with  a  vizir,  who  ordered  his  Jewish  agents  to  accord 
him  support.  In  spite  of  his  artifices,  however,  the 

228  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

rabbinate  of  Constantinople  refused  to  remove  the 
sentence  against  him,  but  referred  him  to  the  college 
of  Jerusalem,  the  first  to  proscribe  him.  Several 
years  elapsed  before  three  rabbis,  probably  intimi- 
dated by  the  vizir,  declared  themselves  ready  to 
free  Chayon  from  the  ban,  but  they  added  the  con- 
dition that  he  should  never  again  teach,  preach,  or 
publish  Kabbalistic  doctrines.  Chayon  bound  him- 
self by  a  solemn  oath,  given  to  be  broken  at  the 
first  opportunity.  With  a  letter,  which  testified  to 
his  re-admission  into  the  Jewish  communion,  he 
hastened  to  Europe  for  fresh  adventures  and  im- 

Meanwhile  the  Sabbatian  intoxication  had  spread 
in  Poland,  especially  in  Podolia  and  the  district  of 
Lemberg.  There  are  revolting  evidences  extant 
of  the  immorality  of  the  Podolian  Sabbatians  :  how 
they  wallowed  in  a  pool  of  shameless  profligacy,  all 
the  while  pretending  to  redeem  the  world.  Their 
violation  and  contempt  of  Tadmudical  Judaism  were 
for  a  long  time  kept  secret,  but  they  strove  to  win 
adherents,  preaching,  and  explaining  the  Zohar  to 
support  their  immoral  theories.  As  their  sect  grew, 
they  raised  the  mask  of  piety  a  little,  came  out  more 
boldly,  and  were  solemnly  excommunicated  by  the 
Lemberg  rabbinate  with  extinguished  tapers  in  the 
synagogue.  But  this  sect  could  not  be  suppressed 
by  such  means.  Its  members  were  inspired  with  a 
fanatical  desire  to  scorn  the  Talmud,  the  breath  of 
life  of  the  Polish  Jews,  and  to  set  up  in  its  place  the 
Kabbala  and  its  Bible,  the  Zohar,  and  this  plan  they 
endeavored  to  put  into  execution. 

Their  leaders  secretly  sent  (1725)  an  emissary  in 
the  person  of  Moses  Me'ir  Kamenker  into  Moravia, 
Bohemia,  and  Germany,  to  establish  a  connection 
with  the  Sabbatians  of  these  countries,  and  perhaps 
also  to  beg  for  money  for  their  undertaking.  Kam- 
enker traveled  through  several  communities  without 
being  found  out.  Who  could  divine  the  thoughts 


of  this  begging  Polish  rabbi,  who  understood  how 
to  dispute  in  the  manner  of  the  Talmud,  and  rolled 
his  eyes  in  a  pious,  hypocritical  manner?  Moses 
Mei'r  entered  into  relations  with  Jonathan  Eibeschiitz 
at  Prague,  who  though  young  was  regarded  as  a 
most  thorough  and  acute  Talmudist,  but  who  was 
entangled  in  the  snares  of  the  Sabbatian  Kabbala. 


Moses  Me'ir  pressed  on  unrecognized  to  Mannheim, 
where  a  secret  Sabbatian  of  Judah  Chassid's  following 
passed  himself  off  among  his  companions  as  the 
Messiah  returned  to  earth.  From  Mannheim  these 
two  Polish  Sabbatians  threw  out  their  nets,  and 
deluded  the  simple  with  sounding  phrases  from  the 
Zohar.  Their  main  doctrine  was  that  Jews  devoted 
to  the  Talmud  had  not  the  right  faith,  which  was 
rooted  only  in  the  Kabbala.  At  the  same  time  a 
work,  apparently  Kabbalistic,  was  disseminated 
from  Prague.  Its  equal  can  scarcely  be  found  for 
absurdity,  perversity,  and  blasphemy ;  the  coarsest 
notions  bein^  brought  into  connection  with  the 

O  c> 

Godhead  in  Talmudic  and  Zoharistic  forms  of  ex- 
pression. It  also  develops  the  doctrine  of  persons 
in  the  Godhead — the  Primeval  One  and  the  God 
of  Israel,  and  hints  that  from  a  higher  standpoint 
the  Torah  and  the  laws  have  no  significance.  It 
was  reported  at  the  time  that  Jonathan  Eibeschiitz 
was  the  author  of  this  production,  as  revolting  as  it 
is  absurd. 

Chance  brought  these  underhand  proceedings  to 
light.  Moses  Mei'r  was  enticed  to  Frankfort  by 
promises,  and  in  the  house  of  Rabbi  Jacob  Kahana 
his  conduct  was  exposed.  Many  heretical  writings 
were  found  upon  him  as  well  as  letters  by  Sabba- 
tians, amongst  them  letters  from  and  to  Eibeschiitz. 
An  examination  of  witnesses  was  held  by  three  rabbis 
(July,  1725).  Several  witnesses  denounced  Moses 
Meir,  Isaiah  Chassid,  and  Lobele  Prosnitz  as  closely 
allied  fanatical  Sabbatians,  Eibeschiitz  also  being 
connected  with  them.  These  three,  indeed,  regarded 

230  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VI. 

him  as  Sabbatai's  successor,  as  the  genuine  Mes- 
siah. The  witnesses  averred  that  they  had  received 
Kabbalistic  heretical  writings  about  the  Song  of 
Solomon,  and  others,  from  Moses  Meir.  They 
pretended  also  to  have  heard  many  blasphemies 
that  could  not  be  repeated.  Because  of  the  writ- 
ings found  upon  Moses  Mei'r  Kamenker  and  the 
testimony  of  witnesses,  the  rabbinate  of  Frankfort 
pronounced  upon  him,  his  companions,  and  all 
Sabbatians,  the  severest  possible  sentence,  decree- 
ing that  no  one  should  have  dealings  with  them  in 
any  form  whatever,  and  that  every  Jew  should  be 
bound  to  inform  the  rabbis  of  the  secret  Sabbatians, 
and  reveal  their  misconduct  without  respect  of 
persons.  The  rabbis  of  the  German  communities 
of  Altona-Hamburg  and  Amsterdam  joined  in  this 
sentence  ;  they  ordered  it  to  be  read  in  the  syna- 
gogues for  the  information  of  all,  and  had  it  printed. 
The  same  was  done  at  Frankfort-on-the-Oder  at 
fair-time  in  the  presence  of  many  Jews  from  other 
towns,  and  several  Polish  rabbis  did  the  same. 
They  at  last  realized  that  only  by  united  forces  and 
continuous  efforts  could  an  end  be  put  to  the  follies 
of  the  Sabbatians. 

Just  at  this  time  Chayon  returned  to  Europe,  and 
increased  the  confusion.  To  protect  himself  from 
persecution,  he  secretly  approached  Christians, 
obtained  access  to  the  imperial  palace  at  Vienna, 
partly  severed  his  connection  with  the  Jews,  reviled 
them  as  blind  men  who  reject  the  true  faith,  let  it  be 
understood  that  he,  too,  taught  the  doctrine  of  the 
Trinity,  and  that  he  could  bring  over  the  Jews. 
Provided  with  a  letter  of  protection  from  the  court, 
he  proceeded  on  his  journey,  and  again  played  a 
double  game,  living  secretly  as  a  Sabbatian,  openly 
as  an  orthodox  Jew  released  from  the  interdict. 
It  is  hardly  credible,  as  contemporaries  relate  of 
Chayon,  that  at  the  age  of  nearly  eighty,  he  took 
about  with  him  as  his  wife  a  notorious  prostitute, 

CH.   VI.  CHAYON  S    END.  23! 

whom  he  had  picked  up  in  Hungary.  He  did  not 
meet  with  so  good  a  reception  this  time  ;  distrust 
had  been  excited  against  secret  Sabbatians,  especi- 
ally against  him.  At  Prague  he  was  not  admitted 
into  the  city.  At  Berlin,  Chayon  wrote  to  a  former 
acquaintance  that,  if  the  money  he  needed  were  not 
sent  him,  he  was  resolved  to  be  baptized  to  the 
disgrace  of  the  Jews.  At  Hanover,  his  papers  were 
taken  from  him,  which  exposed  him  still  more. 
Thus  the  rogue  dragged  himself  to  Amsterdam  in 
the  hope  of  again  finding  enthusiastic  friends.  But 
Ayllon  would  have  nothing  more  to  do  with  him  ;  he 
is  said  to  have  repented  having  favored  Chayon. 
The  latter  was  included  in  the  proscription  of  the 
Sabbatians  and  excommunicated  (1726).  Moses 
Chages,  formerly  persecuted  by  him,  now  occupied 
an  honored  position  in  Altona.  He  was  considered 
the  chief  of  the  heresy  judges,  so  to  say,  and  he 
dealt  Chayon  the  last  blow.  The  latter  could 
not  hold  his  own  in  Europe  or  in  the  East, 
and  therefore  repaired  to  northern  Africa,  where  he 
died.  His  son  was  converted  to  Christianity,  and, 
whilst  at  Rome,  through  his  false,  or  half-true  accusa- 
tions, he  drew  the  attention  of  the  Inquisition  to 
ancient  Jewish  literature,  which  he  declared  to  be 
inimical  to  Christianity. 



Poetical  Works  of  Moses  Chayim  Luzzatto — Luzzatto  ensnared  in  the 
Kahbala—  His  Contest  with  Rabbinical  Authorities— Luzzatto's 
last  Drama — Jonathan  Eibeschiitz — Character  and  Education  of 
Eibeschiitz — His  Relations  with  the  Jesuits  in  Prague— The  Aus- 
trian War  of  Succession — Expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  Prague — 
Eibeschiitz  becomes  Rabbi  of  Altona — Jacob  Emden — Eibe- 
schiitz charged  with  Heresy — The  Controversy  between  Emden 
and  Eibeschiitz — The  Amulets — Party  Strife — Interference  by 
Christians  and  the  Civil  Authorities — Revival  of  Sabbatianism — 
Jacob  Frank  Lejbowicz  and  the  Frankists — The  Doctrine  of  the 
Trinity — Excesses  of  the  Frankists. 

1727—  1760  C.  E. 

THE  disgrace  and  disappointment  caused  by  vision- 
aries and  impostors  during  almost  a  whole  century, 
the  lamentable  effects  of  the  careers  of  Sabbatai 
Zevi  and  his  band  of  prophets — Cardoso,  Mordecai 
of  Eisenstadt,  Ouerido,  Judah  Chassid,  Chayim  Ma- 
lach,  Chayon,  and  others — failed  to  suppress  Kab- 
balistic  and  Messianic  extravagances.  As  yet  these 
impostors  only  invited  fresh  imitators,  who  found 
a  credulous  circle  ready  to  believe  in  them,  and  thus 
new  disorders  were  begotten.  The  unhealthy  hu- 
mors which,  during  the  lapse  of  ages,  had  been  in- 
troduced into  the  organism  of  Judaism  appeared  as 
hideous  eruptions  on  the  surface,  but  this  might  be 
considered  the  sign  of  convalescence.  Corruption 
had  seized  even  the  most  delicate  organs.  A  gifted 
youth,  endowed  with  splendid  talents,  who  in  ordi- 
nary circumstances  would  have  become  an  ornament 
to  Judaism,  was  tainted  by  the  general  degradation, 
and  under  the  spell  of  mysticism  misapplied  his  ex- 
cellent gifts,  and  contributed  to  error.  It  is  impos- 
sible to  resist  a  feeling  of  sorrow  at  finding  this 
amiable  man  with  his  ideal  character  falling  into 



errors  which  bring  him  down  to  the  level  of  such 
impure  spirits  as  Chayon  and  Lobele  Prosnitz — a 
many-colored  sunbeam  extinguished  in  a  swamp.  It 
we  denounce  the  Kabbala,  which  has  begotten  such 
unspeakable  misconceptions  of  Judaism,  and  are 
justly  wrathful  against  its  authors  and  propagators, 
we  feel  specially  indignant  when  we  find  two  noble 
young  men  of  high  endowments  and  purity  of  life, 
Solomon  Molcho  and  Luzzatto,  following  its  chim- 
eras, and  thereby  precipitating  themselves  into  the 
abyss.  Both  literally  sacrificed  their  lives  for  dreams, 
the  confused  imagery  of  which  was  suggested  by  the 
dazing  medley  of  the  Kabbala.  Although  Luzzatto 
did  not  meet  with  a  tragic  end  like  the  Portuguese 
Marrano  who  shared  his  convictions,  yet  he,  too, 
was  a  martyr,  none  the  less  because  his  wounds  had 
been  inflicted  by  himself  under  the  influence  of  ex- 

Moses  Chayim  Luzzatto  (born  1707,  died  1747) 
was  the  son  of  very  wealthy  parents,  natives  of 
Padua.  His  father,  who  carried  on  an  extensive  silk 
business,  spared  no  expense  in  educating  him.  The 
two  ancient  languages,  Hebrew  and  Latin,  which  in 
Italy  were  in  a  measure  a  literary  necessity,  the  one 
among  Jews,  the  other  among  Christians,  Luzzatto 
acquired  in  early  youth  ;  but  they  had  an  influence 
on  his  mind  altogether  different  from  that  which 
they  obtained  over  his  contemporaries.  Both  en- 
riched his  genius,  and  promoted  its  higher  develop- 
ment. Latin  opened  for  him  the  realm  of  the  beauti- 
ful, Hebrew  the  gates  of  the  sublime.  Luzzatto  had 
a  poet's  delicately-strung  soul,  an  yEolian  harp, 
which  responded  to  every  breath  with  harmonious, 
tuneful  vibrations.  His  poetic  gift  displayed  at  once 
power  and  sweetness,  wealth  of  fancy  and  richness 
of  imagery,  combined  with  due  sense  of  proportion. 
A  believer  in  the  transmigration  of  souls  might  have 
said  that  the  soul  of  the  Hebrew-Castilian  singer, 
Jehuda  Halevi,  had  been  born  again  in  Luzzatto,  but 

234  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

had  become  more  perfect,  more  matured,  more  ten- 
der, and  endowed  with  a  more  delicate  sense  of 
harmony,  encompassed  as  he  was  by  the  musical 
atmosphere  of  his  Italian  fatherland.  Even  in  early 
boyhood  every  event,  joyful  or  sad,  was  to  him  a 
complete  picture,  a  little  work  of  art,  wherein  color 
and  euphony  were  revealed  together.  A  youth  of 
seventeen,  he  discerned  with  such  remarkable  clear- 
ness the  hidden  charm  of  language,  the  laws  of  har- 
mony, deducible  from  the  higher  forms  of  eloquence 
as  from  poetry,  and  the  grace  of  rhythm  and  cadence, 
that  he  composed  a  work  on  the  subject,  and  illus- 
trated it  by  beautiful  examples  from  sacred  poetry. 
He  contemplated  introducing  a  new  meter  into 
modern  Hebrew  poetry,  in  order  to  obtain  greater 
variety  in  the  succession  of  long  and  short  syllables, 
and  thus  produce  a  musical  cadence.  The  Hebrew 
language  is  usually  classified  among  the  dead 
tongues.  To  Luzzatto,  however,  it  was  full  of  life, 
vigor,  youth,  clearness,  and  euphony.  He  used 
Hebrew  as  a  pliant  instrument,  and  drew  from  it 
sweet  notes  and  caressing  melodies  :  he  renewed 


its  youth,  invested  it  with  a  peculiar  charm,  in  short, 
lived  in  it  as  though  his  ear  had  absorbed  the  rich 
tones  of  Isaiah's  eloquence.  Incomparably  more 
gifted  than  Joseph  Penso  de  la  Vega,  Luzzatto,  like- 
wise in  his  seventeenth  year,  composed  a  drama  on 
the  biblical  theme  of  Samson  and  the  Philistines. 
This  early  work  gives  promise  of  the  future  master. 
The  versification  is  faultless,  the  thoughts  original, 
and  the  language  free  from  bombast  and  redun- 
dancy. His  Hebrew  prose,  too,  is  an  agreeable 
contrast  to  the  insipid,  ornate,  and  laboriously  witty 
style  of  his  Jewish  contemporaries  ;  it  has  much  of 
the  simplicity,  polish,  and  vivacity  of  the  biblical 
narrative.  Before  his  twentieth  year  Luzzatto  had 
composed  one  hundred  and  fifty  hymns,  which  are 
only  an  imitation  of  the  old  psalter,  but  the  language 
of  which  is  marked  by  fervor  and  purity.  It  was 

CH.   VII.  ENSNARED    BY    THE    KABBALA.  235 

perhaps  during  the  same  period  that  he  composed 
his  second  Hebrew  drama,  in  four  acts — "  The  High 
Tower,  or  The  Innocence  of  the  Virtuous"-  —beauti- 
ful in  versification,  melodious  in  language,  but  poor 
in  thought.  The  young  poet  had  not  yet  seen  life 
in  its  fullness,  nor  keenly  studied  its  contrasts  and 
struggles.  He  was  acquainted  only  with  idyllic 
family  life  and  academic  peace.  Even  virtue  and 
vice,  love  and  selfishness,  which  he  desired  to  rep- 
resent in  his  drama,  were  known  to  him  but  by  hear- 
say. His  muse  becomes  eloquent  only  when  she 
sings  of  God's  sublimity.  Isolated  verses  are  fault- 
less, but  the  work  as  a  whole  is  that  of  a  schoolboy. 
He  was  too  dependent  on  Italian  models — still 
walked  on  stilts. 

This  facility  and  versatility  in  clothing  both  plati- 
tudes and  original  thoughts  in  new  as  well  as  bor- 
rowed forms,  and  the  over-abundance  of  half- 
matured  ideas,  which,  if  he  could  have  perfected 
them,  might  have  proved  a  blessing  to  Judaism  and 
to  himself,  were  transformed  into  a  curse.  One 
day  (Sivan,  1727)  he  was  seized  with  the  desire  to 
imitate  the  mystic  language  of  the  Zohar,  and  he 
succeeded  as  well  as  in  the  case  of  the  psalms. 
His  sentences  and  expressions  were  deceptively 
similar  to  those  of  his  model,  just  as  high-sounding, 
apparently  full  of  meaning,  in  reality  meaningless. 
This  success  turned  his  head,  and  led  him  astray. 
Instead  of  perceiving  that  if  the  Kabbalistic  style  of 
the  Zohar  is  capable  of  imitation,  that  book  must  be 
the  work  of  a  clever  human  author,  Luzzatto  inferred 
that  his  own  creative  faculty  did  not  proceed  from 
natural  endowments,  but,  as  in  the  case  of  the  Zohar, 
was  the  product  of  a  higher  inspiration.  In  other 
words,  he  shared  the  mistaken  view  of  his  age  with 
respect  to  the  origin  and  value  of  the  Kabbala. 
Isaiah  Bassan,  of  Padua — who  instructed  Luzzatto 
in  his  early  years — had  infused  mystical  poison  into 
his  healthy  blood.  However,  any  other  teacher 

236  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VII. 

would  also  have  led  him  into  the  errors  of  the  Kab- 
bala, from  which  there  was  no  escape.  The  air  cf 
the  Ghettos  was  impregnated  with  Kabbala.  From 
his  youth  upwards  Luzzatto  heard  daily  that  great 
adepts  in  mysticism  possessed  special  tutelar  spirits 
(Maggid),  who  every  day  gave  them  manifestations 
from  above.  Why  should  not  he,  too,  be  vouchsafed 
this  divine  gift  of  grace  ?  Some  of  the  mystical 
writings  of  Lurya,  at  that  time  still  a  rarity,  fell  into 
his  hands.  He  learnt  them  by  heart,  became  en- 
tirely absorbed  in  them,  and  thus  completed  his  de- 
rangement. Luzzatto  was  possessed  by  a  peculiar 
delusion.  His  naturally  clear  and  methodical  intel- 
lect, his  fine  sense  of  the  simplicity  and  beauty  of 
the  poetry  of  the  Bible,  and  his  aesthetic  conceptions 
with  regard  to  Italian  and  Latin  literature  urged 
him  to  seek  clearness  and  common  sense  even  in 
the  chaos  of  the  Kabbala,  the  divine  origin  of  which 
was  accepted  by  him  as  a  fact.  He  in  no  way  re- 
sembled the  wild  visionaries  Moses  Zacut  and  Mor- 
decai  of  Eisenstadt ;  he  did  not  content  himself  with 
empty  formulas  and  flourishes,  but  sought  for  sound 
sense.  This  he  found  rather  in  his  own  mind  than 
in  the  Zohar  or  in  the  writings  of  Lurya.  Never- 
theless, he  lived  under  the  delusion  that  a  divine 
spirit  had  vouchsafed  him  deep  insight  into  the  Kab- 
bala, solved  its  riddles,  and  disentangled  its  meshes. 
Self-deception  was  the  cause  of  his  errors,  and  re- 
ligious fervor,  instead  of  protecting,  only  plunged 
him  in  more  deeply.  His  errors  were  fostered  by 
the  conviction  that  existing  Judaism  with  its  excres- 
cences would  be  unintelligible  without  the  Kabbala, 
the  theories  of  which  could  alone  explain  the  phe- 
nomena, the  strife,  and  the  contradictions  in  the 
world,  and  the  tragical  history  of  the  Jewish  people. 
Israel — God's  people — the  noblest  portion  of  crea- 
tion, stands  enfeebled  and  abased  on  the  lowest 
rung  of  the  ladder  of  nations ;  its  religion  mis- 
judged, its  struggles  fruitless.  To  account  for  this 

CH.  VII.  THE    NEW    ZOHAR.  237 

bewildering  fact,  Luzzatto  constructed  a  system  of 

It  flattered  the  vanity  of  this  young  man  of  twenty 
to  gain  this  insight  into  the  relations  of  the  upper 
and  the  lower  worlds,  to  explain  them  in  the  mysti- 
cal language  of  the  Zohar,  and  thus  become  an  im- 
portant member  in  the  series  of  created  beings. 
Having  firmly  convinced  himself  of  the  truth  of  the 
fundamental  idea  of  the  Kabbala,  he  accepted  all  its 
excrescences — transmigration  of  souls,  anagrams, 
and  necromancy.  He  wrote  reams  of  Kabbalistic 
chimeras,  and  composed  a  second  Zohar  (Zohar 
Tinyana)  with  appropriate  introductions  (Tikkunim) 
and  appendices.  The  more  facility  he  acquired,  the 
stronger  became  his  delusion  that  he,  too,  was 
inspired  by  a  great  spirit,  and  was  a  second,  perhaps 
more  perfect  Simon  bar  Yochai.  Little  by  little 
there  crept  over  him  in  his  solitude  the  fantastic 
conviction  that  he  was  the  pre-ordained  Messiah, 
called  to  redeem,  by  means  of  the  second  Zohar,  the 
souls  of  Israel  and  the  whole  world. 

Luzzatto  could  not  long  bear  to  hide  his  light 
under  a  bushel.  He  began  operations  by  disclosing 
to  Israel  Marini  and  Israel  Treves,  two  young  men 
of  the  same  way  of  thinking  as  himself,  that  his 
guardian  spirit  had  bidden  him  grant  them  knowl- 
edge of  his  new  Zohar.  His  disciples  in  the  Kab- 
bala were  dazzled  and  delighted,  and  could  not  keep 
the  secret.  The  result  was  that  Venetian  Kabbal- 
ists  sought  out  the  young  and  wealthy  prodigy  at 
his  home  in  Padua,  and  thus  confirmed  him  in  his 
fanaticism.  A  vivacious,  energetic,  impetuous  Pole, 
Yekutiel  (Kussiel)  of  Wilna,  who  had  come  to  Padua 
to  study  medicine,  joined  Luzzatto's  circle.  To  hear 
of  the  latter,  join  him,  abandon  his  former  studies, 
and  devote  himself  to  mysticism  was  for  the  Pole  a 
rapid,  easy  resolution.  It  was  far  harder  for  him  to 
keep  the  secret.  No  sooner  had  he  been  initiated 
by  Luzzatto  than  he  blazoned  forth  this  new  miracle 

238  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VII. 

to  the  world.  Kussiel  circulated  extravagant  letters 
on  the  subject,  which  came  into  the  hands  of  Moses 
Chages  in  Altona.  The  latter,  who  had  stoutly  op- 
posed and  effectually  silenced  Chayon  and  the  other 
Sabbatian  visionaries,  was,  so  to  speak,  the  recog- 
nized official  zealot,  whose  utterances  were  decisive 
on  matters  of  faith ;  and  the  rabbi  of  the  so-called 
"three  communities"  of  Altona,  Hamburg,  and 
Wandsbeck,  Ezekiel  Katzenellenbogen,  who  had 
excommunicated  Moses  Mei'r  Kamenker  and  his 
confederates,  was  subservient  to  him.  Chages 
therefore  requested  the  Venetian  community  to 
suppress  the  newly-born  brood  of  heretics  before 
the  poison  of  their  doctrine  could  spread  further. 

The  Venetian  community,  however,  was  not  dis- 
posed to  denounce  Luzzatto  as  a  heretic,  but  treated 
him  with  great  forbearance,  probably  out  of  consid- 
eration for  his  youth,  talents,  and  the  wealth  of  his 
family,  and  merely  ordered  him  to  justify  himself. 
The  enthusiastic  youth  rebelled  against  this  demand, 
proudly  gave  Chages  to  understand  that  he  did  not 
recognize  his  authority,  repudiated  the  suspicion 
of  Sabbatian  heresy,  and  insisted  that  he  had  been 
vouchsafed  revelations  from  Heaven.  He  referred 
him  to  his  instructor  Bassan,  who  would  never  refuse 
to  testify  that  his  orthodoxy  was  above  suspicion. 
In  this  Luzzatto  was  perfectly  right.  Bassan  was 
so  infatuated  with  his  pupil  that  he  would  have 
palliated  his  most  scandalous  faults,  and  encouraged 
rather  than  checked  his  extravagances.  In  vain 
Chages  and  Katzenellenbogen  threatened  him  and 
the  Paduan  community  with  the  severest  form  of 
excommunication,  if  he  did  not  abandon  his  preten- 
sions to  second  sight  and  mystical  powers.  Luz- 
zatto remained  unmoved  :  God  had  chosen  him,  like 
many  before,  to  reveal  to  him  His  mysteries.  The 
other  Italian  rabbis  showed  themselves  as  lukewarm 
in  the  matter  as  those  of  Padua  and  Venice.  Moses 
Chages  called  on  three  rabbis  to  form  a  tribunal, 


but  all  three  declined  to  interfere.  He  exerted  him- 
self so  zealously,  however,  that  he  persuaded  several 
German  rabbis  (June,  1730)  to  excommunicate  all 
who  should  compose  works  in  the  language  of  the 
Zohar  in  the  name  of  angels  or  saints.  This  threat 
proved  effectual.  Isaiah  Bassan  was  obliged  to 
repair  to  Padua  and  obtain  a  promise  from  his  fav- 
orite disciple  to  discontinue  his  mystical  writings 
and  his  instruction  of  young  Kabbalists,  or  emigrate 
to  the  Holy  Land.  At  last  the  Venetian  rabbinate 
was  stirred  up  to  intervene,  and  sent  three  repre- 
sentatives to  Padua — Jacob  Belillos,  Moses  Men- 
achem  Merari,  and  Nehemiah  Vital  Cohen, — in 
whose  presence  Luzzatto  was  obliged  to  repeat  his 
promise  under  oath.  He  was  compelled  to  deliver 
his  Kabbalistic  writings  to  his  teacher  Bassan,  and 
they  were  placed  under  seal.  Thus  the  storm  which 
had  threatened  him  was  averted. 

Luzzatto  appears  to  have  been  sobered  by  these 
events.  He  occupied  himself  with  his  business, 
wrote  more  poetry,  and  resolved  to  marry.  He 
was  a  happy  father,  lived  in  concord  with  his  parents 
and  brothers  and  sisters,  and  was  highly  respected. 
The  evil  spirit,  however,  to  whom  he  had  sold  him- 
self would  not  release  him,  and  led  him  back  to  his 
youthful  follies.  A  quarrel  in  the  family  and  business 
misfortunes  in  connection  with  his  father's  house,  in 
which  he  was  a  partner,  appear  to  have  been  the 
cause  of  this  renewal  of  his  former  studies.  Dis- 
quieted and  troubled  in  the  present  he  sought  to 
learn  the  future  by  means  of  Kabbalistic  arts.  He 
began  once  more  to  write  down  his  mystical  fancies, 
and  ventured  to  show  them  to  Bassan,  from  whom 
he  obtained  permission  to  publish  them.  It  was 
whispered  that  Luzzatto  performed  incantations  by 
means  of  magic,  and  that  his  teacher  had  handed 
him  for  publication  some  of  the  sealed  writings  in 
his  custody.  The  Venetian  council  of  rabbis,  owing 
to  certain  reports,  was  especially  excited  and  pre- 

24O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS  CH.   VII. 

judiced  against  him.  Luzzatto  had  written  a  sharp 
reply  to  Leon  Modena's  forcible  work  against  the 
Kabbala  ;  and  as  the  latter  was  a  Venetian  rabbi, 
though  of  doubtful  sincerity,  the  members  of  the 
Venetian  council,  Samuel  Aboab  and  his  five  col- 
leagues, considered  any  attack  upon  him  an  insult  to 
their  own  honor.  Their  esprit  de  corps  roused  them 
to  o-reater  activity  than  had  zeal  for  their  faith,  when 

<Zj  * 

seemingly  in  peril.  True  Venetians,  they  had  in 
their  service  a  spy,  Salman  of  Lemberg,  who  watched 
and  reported  Luzzatto's  movements  to  them.  As 
long  as  he  was  prosperous  and  surrounded  by  friends 
the  Venetian  rabbis  had  treated  him  with  remark- 
able indulgence,  and  bestowed  on  him  a  title  of 
honor ;  but  after  his  family  fell  into  misfortune, 
when  he  was  on  the  verge  of  ruin,  and  deserted  by 
his  friends  and  flatterers,  their  regard  for  him  ceased, 
and  they  could  not  find  enough  stones  to  throw  at 
him.  They  believed  one  of  their  number  who 
asserted  that  he  had  found  implements  of  magic  in 
Luzzatto's  house.  Absurdly  enough,  too,  they  re- 
proached Luzzatto  with  having  learnt  Latin  ;  to  a 
man  who  had  studied  this  language  of  Satan  no 
angel,  they  said,  could  appear  !  The  members  of 
the  Venetian  council  of  rabbis  believed,  or  pre- 
tended to  believe  that  Luzzatto  had  boasted  that 
in  the  Messianic  age  his  psalms  would  take  the 
place  of  David's  psalter.  They  now  showed  them- 
selves as  active  as  they  had  previously  been  negli- 
gent in  the  persecution  of  the  unfortunate  author. 
They  sent  three  inquisitors  to  Padua  to  examine 
him,  search  his  house  for  writings,  and  make  him 
declare  on  oath  that  he  would  publish  nothing  with- 
out first  submitting  it  to  the  censorship  of  the  Vene- 
tian council  of  rabbis.  The  poet,  deeply  mortified, 
haughtily  answered  that  this  council  had  no  author- 
ity whatever  over  him,  a  member  of  the  community 
of  Padua.  The  Venetian  rabbis  then  excommuni- 
cated him,  and  condemned  his  writings  to  the  flames 



(December,  I  734),  taking  care  to  give  notice  of  their 
proceedings  to  all  the  communities  in  Germany, 
particularly  to  the  "  big  drum, "  Chages.  The 
Paduan  community  also  abandoned  the  unfortunate 
Luzzatto.  To  the  honor  of  his  teacher  Isaiah  Bassan 
be  it  said,  that  he  adhered  to  him  as  staunchly  in 
misfortune  as  in  prosperity.  The  rabbi  Katzenel- 
lenbogen,  or  rather  his  crier  Chages,  on  this  occasion 
made  the  sensible  suggestion  that  the  study  of  the 
Kabbala  be  altogether  forbidden  to  young  men,  to 
prevent  their  falling  into  deplorable  errors,  as  had 
hitherto  been  the  case  ;  but  the  proposition  failed  to 
meet  with  the  approbation  of  other  rabbis.  Twenty 
years  later  the  evils  produced  by  the  Kabbala 
became  so  patent,  that  the  synod  of  Polish  Jews 
enacted  a  decree  to  the  above  effect  without  encount- 
ering opposition. 

The  unfortunate,  excommunicated  dreamer  was 
obliged  to  leave  his  parents,  his  wife  and  child,  and 
go  forth  a  wanderer  ;  but  what  grieved  him  even 
more  was  separation  from  his  fellow  Kabbalists  and 
his  mystic  conventicle.  He  cherished  the  hope  of 
being  able  to  print  his  Kabbalistic  writings  in 
Amsterdam.  Alas  for  his  want  of  experience  ! 
Who  would  help  him  after  fortune  had  turned  her 
back  !  At  Frankfort-on-the-Main  he  was  rudely 
awakened  from  his  pleasant  dream.  As  soon  as 
the  rabbi,  Jacob  Kahana,  heard  of  his  arrival,  he 
insisted  that  he  should  promise  on  oath  to  abandon 
his  Kabbalistic  illusions,  and  to  refrain  from  writing 
on  or  instructing  any  one  in  the  doctrines  of  the 
Zohar  (January  12,  1735).  One  liberty,  however, 
Luzzatto  reserved  for  himself :  to  pursue  his  favorite 
studies  at  the  age  of  forty  in  the  Holy  Land.  Many 
rabbis  of  Germany,  Poland,  Holland,  and  Denmark, 
who  were  informed  of  Luzzatto's  concessions,  agreed 
in  advance  to  his  excommunication  in  case  he  should 
break  his  word.  The  name  of  Chages  was  of  course 
upon  the  list. 

242  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

Deeply  humiliated  and  disappointed,  Luzzatto 
repaired  to  Amsterdam.  Here  a  gleam  of  sunlight 
smiled  on  him  again.  The  Portuguese  community 
received  him  kindly,  as  though  desirous  of  atoning 
for  the  injustice  he  had  experienced  at  the  hands  of 
the  Germans  and  Poles.  They  granted  him  a 
pension  ;  and  he  found  a  hospitable  home  in  the 
house  of  Moses  de  Chaves,  a  wealthy  Portuguese, 
and  became  instructor  to  his  son.  To  be  indepen- 
dent, he  applied  himself,  like  Spinoza,  to  the  polish- 
ing of  lenses,  and  this  led  him  to  study  physics  and 
mathematics.  He  found  himself  so  comfortably 
settled  that  he  induced  not  only  his  wife,  but  also 
his  parents  to  come  to  Amsterdam,  and  they  were 
well  received  by  the  Portuguese  community.  This 
favorable  turn  in  his  fortunes  encouraged  him  to 
resume  his  chimerical  theories.  He  repeatedly 
exhorted  his  disciples  in  Padua  to  remain  true  to 
their  Kabbalistic  studies  ;  whereupon  the  council  of 
rabbis  at  Venice,  which  had  received  intelligence  of 
his  proceedings,  pronounced  sentence  of  excommu- 
nication in  the  synagogues  and  in  the  Ghetto  against 
all  who  possessed  Kabbalistic  writings  or  psalms 
of  Luzzatto,  and  failed  to  deliver  them  to  the 

In  addition  to  his  various  occupations,  with  the 
Kabbala  for  his  spiritual  wants  and  the  polishing 
of  lenses  for  his  temporal  needs,  Luzzatto  pub- 
lished a  masterpiece  second  to  none  in  Hebrew 
poetry  ;  a  drama,  perfect  in  form,  language,  and 
thought ;  a  memorial  of  his  gifts  calculated  to  immor- 
talize him  and  the  language  in  which,  it  is  composed. 
Under  the  unpretentious  form  of  an  occasional  poem 
in  honor  of  the  wedding  of  his  disciple,  Jacob  de 
Chaves,  with  the  high-born  maiden  Rachel  de  Vega 
Enriques,  he  published  his  drama,  "  Glory  to  the 
Virtuous"  (La-Yesharim  Tehilla).  It  differs  materi- 
ally from  his  earlier  works.  The  poet  had  in  the 
interval  enjoyed  various  opportunities  of  gaining 


pleasant  and  painful  experiences,  and  of  enriching 
his  mental  powers.  His  muse,  grown  more  mature, 
had  become  acquainted  with  the  intricacies  of  life. 
Luzzatto  had  learnt  to  know  the  vulgar  herd  well 
enough  to  see  that  it  resembles  a  reed  swaying  to 
and  fro  in  the  water,  and  is  kept  by  the  fetters  of 
Deceit  in  a  state  of  ignorance  and  infirmity  against 
which  Wisdom  herself  is  powerless.  He  had  been 
taught  by  experience  how  Folly  yoked  with  Igno- 
rance makes  merry  over  those  born  of  the  Spirit, 
and  mocks  at  their  labors,  when  they  measure  the 
paths  of  the  stars,  observe  the  life  of  the  vegetable 
world,  behold  God's  works,  and  account  them  of 
more  value  than  Mammon.  Superficiality  sees  in  all 
the  events  of  life  and  of  nature,  however  powerfully 
they  may  appeal  to  the  heart,  only  the  sport  of 
Chance  or  the  inflexible  laws  of  heartless  Necessity. 
Luzzatto  had  proved  in  his  own  case  that  Craft  and 
Pride  closely  united  can  deprive  Merit  of  its  crown, 
and  place  it  on  their  own  heads.  None  the  less  he 
cherished  the  conviction  that  Merit,  though  mis- 
judged and  calumniated,  at  last  wins  the  day,  and 
that  its  acknowledgment  (Fame)  will  fall  to  its  share 
like  a  bride,  if  only  it  allows  itself  to  be  led  by 
Reason  and  her  handmaid  Patience,  averting  its 
gaze  from  ignoble  strife,  and  becoming  absorbed  in 
the  wonders  of  Creation.  "Could  we,  with  undim- 
med  eyes,  for  a  moment  see  the  world  as  it  is, 
divested  of  pretense,  we  should  see  Pride  and  Folly, 
which  speak  so  scornfully  of  Virtue  and  Knowledge, 
deeply  humbled."  Through  an  extraordinary  occur- 
rence, a  kind  of  miracle,  Truth  is  revealed,  Deceit 
unmasked,  Pride  becomes  a  laughing-stock,  and  the 
fickle  mob  is  led  to  recognize  true  Merit. 


Luzzatto  in  his  dramatic  parable  clothes  and 
vivifies  this  train  of  ideas,  and  enunciates  them  in 
monologues  and  dialogues  through  the  mouth  of 
acting,  or,  more  correctly,  speaking  characters. 
Luzzatto's  masterpiece  is  indeed  not  a  drama  in 

244  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

the  strict  sense  of  the  word.  The  characters  repre- 
sented are  not  of  flesh  and  blood,  but  mere  abstrac- 
tions :  Reason  and  Folly,  Merit  and  Deceit,  are 
placed  on  the  stage.  The  dramatic  action  is  slight. 
It  is  in  truth  a  beautiful  wreath  of  fragrant  flowers 
of  poesy,  a  series  of  delightful  monologues  and 
dialogues.  In  it  Luzzatto  embodies  deep  thoughts, 
difficult  to  quicken  into  life  or  to  paint  in  poetical 
colors  ;  but  he  succeeded.  The  wonderful  evolution 
of  the  vegetable  world,  the  extraordinary  phenomena 
of  light,  are  treated  in  dramatic  verse  by  Luzzatto 
with  the  same  facility  as  the  appropriate  subjects 
for  poetry,  and  this  too  in  the  Hebrew  language, 
not  readily  lending  itself  to  new  forms  of  thought, 
and  with  the  self-imposed  fetters  of  a  meter  never 
sinned  against.  His  style  is  dignified,  and  he 
employed  a  diction  quite  his  own,  replete  with 
youthful  charms,  beauty,  and  harmony.  Thereby  he 
supplied  a  new  impulse  for  the  coming  age.  When 
the  mists  of  error  passed  away,  the  general  chaos 
of  thought  was  reduced  to  some  sort  of  order,  and 
a  happier  period  opened,  young  poets  derived 
inspiration  from  the  soft  warm  rays  diffused  by  the 
genius  of  Luzzatto.  A  modern  Hebrew  poet  who 
helped  to  accomplish  the  transition  from  the  old  to 
the  new  period,  David  Franco  Mendes,  owes  his 
inspiration  to  Luzzatto. 

What  might  not  Luzzatto  have  accomplished  if 
he  could  have  liberated  his  mind  from  the  extrava- 
gant follies  of  the  Kabbala  !  But  it  held  him  captive, 
and  drew  him  not  long  after  the  completion  of  his 
drama  (about  1744)  to  Palestine.  Here  he  hoped 
to  be  able  to  follow  unmolested  the  inspirations  of 
his  excited  fancy,  or  play  the  role  of  a  Messiah. 
From  Safet,  too,  he  continued  his  communications 
with  his  band  of  disciples  ;  but  before  he  could  com- 
mence operations  he  fell  a  victim  to  the  plague,  in 
the  fortieth  year  of  his  age.  His  body  was  buried  in 
Tiberias.  The  two  greatest  modern  Hebrew  poets, 


Luzzatto  and  Jehuda  Halevi,  were  to  rest  in  Hebrew 
soil.  Even  the  tongues  of  the  slanderous  Jews  of 
Palestine,  to  whom  Luzzatto,  with  his  peculiarities, 
must  have  seemed  an  enigma,  could  only  speak  well 
of  him  after  his  death.  Nevertheless  he  sowed  bad 
seed.  His  Italian  followers  reintroduced  the  Kab- 
bala  into  Italy.  His  Polish  disciple,  Yekutiel  of 
Wilna,  whose  buffooneries  had  first  got  him  into 
trouble,  is  said  to  have  led  an  adventurer's  life  in 
Poland  and  Holland,  playing  scandalous  tricks 
under  the  mask  of  mysticism.  Another  Pole,  Elijah 
Olianow,  who  belonged  to  Luzzatto's  following,  and 
proclaimed  him  as  Messiah  and  himself  as  his  Elijah, 
did  not  enjoy  the  best  of  reputations.  This  man 
took  part  in  the  disgraceful  disorders  which  broke 
out  in  Altona  after  Luzzatto's  death,  and  which, 
again  stirring  up  the  Sabbatian  mire,  divided  the 
Jews  of  Europe  into  two  hostile  camps. 

The  foul  pool  which  for  centuries,  since  the  pro- 
hibition of  free  inquiry  and  the  triumph  of  its  enemy 
the  Kabbala,  had  been  in  process  of  formation  in 
Judaism  was,  with  perverse  stupidity,  being  contin- 
ually stirred  up,  defiling  the  pure  and  the  impure. 
The  irrational  excitement  roused  by  the  vain,  false 
Messiah  of  Smyrna  was  not  suppressed  by  the  pro- 
scription of  Chayon  and  the  Polish  Sabbatians,  but 
showed  a  still  more  ill-favored  aspect,  forcing  its 
way  into  circles  hitherto  closed  against  it.  The 
rabbis,  occupied  with  the  practical  and  dialectical 
interpretation  of  the  Talmud,  had  hitherto  refused 
admission  to  the  Kabbala  on  equal  terms,  and  only 
here  and  there  had  surreptitiously  introduced  some- 
thing from  it.  They  had  opposed  the  Sabbatian 
heresy,  and  pronounced  an  anathema  against  it.  But 
one  influential  rabbi  espoused  its  cause,  invested  it 
with  importance,  and  so  precipitated  a  conflict  which 
undermined  discipline  and  order,  and  blunted  still 
more  the  sense  of  dignity  and  self-respect,  of  truth 
and  rectitude.  The  occasion  of  the  conflict  was  the 

246  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

petty  jealousy  of  two  rabbis.  Its  true  origin  lay 
deeper,  in  intellectual  perversity  and  the  secret  dis- 
like on  the  one  hand  to  the  excess  of  ritualistic  ob- 
servances, and  on  the  other  to  the  extravagances 
of  the  Kabbala.  The  authors  of  this  far-reaching 
schism — two  Polish  rabbbis  of  Altona — each  uncon- 
sciously had  taken  a  step  across  the  threshold  of 
orthodoxy.  Diametrically  opposed  to  each  other  in 
faculties  and  temperament,  they  were  suited  by  their 
characters  to  be  pitted  against  each  other.  Both 
Jonathan  Eibeschiitz  and  Jacob  Emden  had  taken 
part  in  the  foregoing  conflicts,  and  eventually  gave 
these  quarrels  a  more  extended  influence. 

Jonathan  Eibeschiitz,  or  Eibeschiitzer  (born  at 
Cracow  1690,  died  1764),  was  descended  from  a 
Polish  family  of  Kabbalists.  His  father,  Nathan 
Nata,  was  for  a  short  time  rabbi  of  the  small  Mo- 
ravian town  of  Eibenschitz,  from  which  his  son  de- 
rived his  surname.  Endowed  with  a  remarkably 
acute  intellect  and  a  retentive  memory,  the  youthful 
Jonathan,  early  left  an  orphan,  received  the  irregular 
education,  or  rather  bewildering  instruction  of  the 
age,  which  supplied  him  with  only  two  subjects  on 
which  to  exercise  his  brains — the  far-reaching  sphere 
of  the  Talmud,  with  its  labyrinthine  mazes,  and  the 
ensnaring  Kabbala,  with  its  shallows  full  of  hidden 
rocks.  The  one  offered  abundant  food  for  his 
hungry  reason,  the  other  for  his  ill-regulated  fancy. 
With  his  hair-splitting  ingenuity  he  might  have  made 
an  adroit,  pettifogging  attorney,  qualified  to  make 
out  a  brilliant  and  successful  justification  for  the 
worst  case  ;  or,  had  he  had  access  to  the  higher 
mathematics  of  Newton  and  Leibnitz,  he  might  have 
accomplished  much  in  this  field  as  a  discoverer. 
Eibeschiitz  had  some  taste  for  branches  of  learning 
beyond  the  sphere  of  the  Talmud,  and  also  a  certain 
vanity  that  made  him  desire  to  excel  in  them  ;  but 
this  he  could  not  satisfy.  The  perverted  spirit  of 
the  Polish  and  German  Jews  of  the  time  closed  to 


every  aspiring  youth  the  gates  of  the  sciences  based 
on  truth  and  keen  observation,  and  drove  him  into 
the  mazes  of  Rabbinical  and  Talmudic  literature. 
From  lack  of  more  wholesome  food  for  his  active 
intellect,  young  Eibeschiitz  filled  his  brain  with  per- 
nicious matter,  and  want  of  method  forced  him  into 
the  crooked  paths  of  sophistry.  He  imagined 
indeed,  or  wished  it  to  be  supposed,  that  he  had 
acquired  every  variety  of  knowledge,  but  his  writings 
on  subjects  not  connected  with  the  Talmud,  so  far 
as  it  is  possible  to  judge  of  them,  his  sermons,  his 
Kabbalistic  compositions,  and  a  mass  of  occasional 
papers,  reveal  nothing  that  can  be  described  as 
wisdom  or  solid  learning.  Eibeschiitz  was  not  even 
familiar  with  the  Jewish  philosophers  who  wrote  in 
Hebrew  ;  he  was  at  home  only  in  the  Talmud.  This 
he  could  manipulate  like  soft  clay,  give  it  any  form 
he  desired,  and  he  could  unravel  the  most  intricately 
entangled  skeins.  He  surpassed  all  his  contem- 
poraries and  predecessors  not  only  in  his  knowledge 
of  the  Talmud,  but  also  in  ready  wit. 

But  Eibeschiitz  did  not  derive  complete  satisfac- 
tion from  his  scholarship ;  it  only  served  to  sharpen 
his  wits,  afford  him  amusement,  and  dazzle  others. 
His  restless  nature  and  fiery  temperament  could 
not  content  themselves  with  this,  but  aspired  to  a 
higher  goal.  This  goal,  however,  was  unknown 
even  to  himself,  or  was  only  dimly  shadowed  before 
his  mind.  Hence  his  life  and  conduct  appear  enig- 
matical and  full  of  contradictions.  Had  he  lived  in 
the  age  of  the  struggle  for  reform,  for  the  loosening 
of  the  bands  of  authority,  he  would  have  been  among 
the  assailants,  and  would  have  employed  his  Tal- 
mudical  learning  and  aggressive  wit  as  levers  to 
upheave  the  edifice  of  Rabbinical  Judaism,  and  op- 
pose the  Talmud  with  the  weapons  it  had  supplied. 
For  he  was  easy-going,  and  disliked  the  gloomy 
piety  of  the  German  and  Polish  Jews  ;  and  though 
impressed  by  it,  he  lacked  fervor  to  yield  to  its  in- 

248  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

fluence.  He  therefore  found  mysticism  as  inter- 
preted by  the  followers  of  Sabbatai  very  comforting  : 
the  Law  was  to  be  abolished  by  the  commencement 
of  the  Messianic  era,  or  the  spirit  of  the  Kabbala 
demanded  no  over-scrupulousness  with  regard  to 
trifles.  Nehemiah  Chayon  appears  to  have  made  a 
great  impression  on  young  Eibeschiitz  in  Prague  or 
Hamburg.  With  the  Sabbatian  Lobele  Prosnitz, 
he  was  in  constant,  though  secret  intercourse.  He 
studied  thoroughly  the  works  of  Abraham  Michael 
Cardoso,  though  they  had  been  publicly  condemned 
and  branded  as  heretical.  Eibeschiitz  had  adopted 
the  blasphemous  tenets  of  these  and  other  Sab- 
batians — namely,  that  there  is  no  relation  of  any 
kind  between  the  Most  High  God,  the  First  Cause, 
and  the  Universe,  but  that  a  second  person  in  the 
Godhead,  the  God  of  Israel,  the  image  and  proto- 
type of  the  former,  created  the  world,  gave  the  Law, 
chose  Israel,  in  short  governs  the  Finite.  He  ap- 
pears to  have  embraced  also  the  conclusions  deduced 
from  this  heretical  theory,  that  Sabbatai  Zevi  was 
the  true  Messiah,  that  the  second  person  of  the 
Godhead  was  incorporated  in  him,  and  that  by  his 
appearance  the  Torah  had  ceased  to  have  any 

But  Eibeschiitz  had  not  sufficient  strength  of 
character  or  determination  to  act  in  conformity  with 
his  convictions.  It  would  have  been  contrary  to  his 
nature  to  break  openly  with  Rabbinical  Judaism,  and 
by  proclaiming  himself  an  anti-Talmudist,  as  had 
been  done  by  several  Sabbatians,  to  wage  war 
against  the  whole  of  Judaism.  He  was  too  prac- 
tical and  loved  ease  too  well  to  expose  himself  to 
the  disagreeable  consequences  of  such  a  rupture. 
Should  he,  like  Chayon,  wander  forth  a  fugitive 
through  Asia  and  Europe,  and  back  again  ?  Be- 
sides, he  loved  the  Talmud  and  Rabbinical  literature 
as  food  for  his  wit,  and  could  not  do  without  them. 
The  contradictions  in  his  career  and  the  disorders 


which  he  originated  may  be  traced  to  want  of  har- 
mony between  his  intellect  and  his  temperament. 
Rabbinical  Judaism  did  not  altogether  suit  him,  but 
the  sources  from  which  it  was  derived  were  indis- 
pensable to  him,  and  had  they  not  been  in  existence 
he  would  have  created  them.  Fettered  by  this  con- 
tradiction he  deceived  not  only  the  world,  but  also 
himself ;  he  could  not  arrive  at  any  clear  under- 
standing with  himself,  and  was  a  hypocrite  without 
intending  it. 


At  one-and-twenty  Eibeschlitz  directed  a  school 
in  Prague,  and  a  band  of  subtlety-loving  Talmud 
students  gathered  round  him,  hung  on  his  lips,  and 
admired  his  stimulating  method,  and  playful  way  of 
dealing  with  difficulties.  He  captivated  and  inspired 
his  pupils  by  his  genial,  one  might  almost  say 
student-like,  manners,  by  his  sparkling  wit,  and 
scintillating  sallies,  not  always  within  the  bounds  of 
propriety.  His  manner  towards  his  pupils  was 
altogether  different  from  that  of  rabbis  of  the  ordi- 
nary type.  He  did  not  slink  along  gloomily,  like  a 
penitent,  and  with  bowed  head,  and  he  imposed  no 
such  restraints  on  them,  but  allowed  them  great 
freedom.  Social  life  and  lively,  interesting  conver- 
sation were  necessities  to  him.  For  these  reasons 
the  number  of  Eibeschutz's  disciples  yearly  in- 
creased, and  counted  by  thousands.  At  thirty  he 
was  regarded  not  alone  in  Prague,  but  far  and  wide 
as  an  authority. 

It  has  been  stated  that  the  council  of  rabbis  of 
Frankfort-on-the-Main  had  clear  proofs  of  Eibe- 
schutz's connection  with  Lobele  Prosnitz  and  the 
Podolian  Sabbatians.  Only  his  extensive  influence 
and  the  great  number  of  his  disciples  protected  him 
from  being  included  in  the  sentence  of  excommun- 
ication pronounced  against  the  others.  He  had  the 
hardihood  to  meet  the  suspicions  against  himself 
by  excommunicating  the  Sabbatians  ( 1 725).  Moses 
Chages,  the  man  without  "  respect  of  persons,"  the 

250  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

"  watchman  of  Zion  "  of  that  age,  predicted  that  for- 
bearance would  prove  hurtful.  In  fact,  Eibeschiitz 
was  at  that  time  deeply  committed  to  the  Sabbatian 
heresies,  confessed  the  fact  to  Meir  Eisenstadt,  the 
teacher  of  his  youth,  who  knew  his  erring  ways,  and, 
apparently  ashamed  and  repentant,  promised 
amendment.  Thanks  to  this  clemency  Eibeschiitz 
maintained  his  reputation,  increased  by  his  erudition, 
his  ever-growing  body  of  disciples,  and  his  activity. 
The  suspicion  of  heresy  was  by  degrees  forgotten, 
and  the  community  of  Prague,  in  recognition  of  his 
merits,  appointed  him  preacher  (1728). 

In  another  matter  Eibeschiitz  left  the  beaten  path, 
and  placed  himself  in  a  somewhat  ambiguous  light. 
Either  from  vanity  or  calculation,  he  entered  into 
intimate  relations  with  the  Jesuits  in  Prague.  He 
carried  on  discussions  with  them,  displaying  a  cer- 
tain sort  of  liberality,  as  though  he  did  not  share  the 
prejudices  of  the  Jews.  He  associated,  for  instance, 
with  that  spiritual  tyrant,  Hasselbauer,  the  Jesuit 
bishop  of  Prague,  who  frequently  made  domiciliary 
visits  among  Jews,  to  search  for  and  confiscate 
Hebrew  books  that  had  escaped  the  vigilance  of 
the  censor.  Through  this  intimacy  Eibeschiitz 
obtained  from  the  bishop  the  privilege  to  print  the 
Talmud,  so  often  proscribed  by  the  Church  of  Rome. 
Did  he  act  thus  from  self-interest,  with  the  view  of 
compelling  the  Bohemian  Jews  to  use  only  copies 
of  the  Talmud  printed  by  him,  and  in  this  way 
create  a  remunerative  business,  the  profits  to  be 
shared  with  the  Jesuits?  This  was  most  positively 
asserted  in  many  Jewish  circles.  Eibeschiitz  obtained 
permission  to  print  from  the  episcopal  board  of 
censors,  on  condition  that  every  expression,  every 
word  in  the  Talmud  which,  in  howsoever  small  a 
degree,  appeared  to  be  antagonistic  to  Christianity 
be  expunged.  He  was  willing  to  perpetrate  this  pro- 
cess of  mutilation  (1728-1739).  Such  obsequious  pli- 
ability to  the  Jesuits  excited  the  displeasure  of  many 


Jews.  The  community  of  Frankfort-on-the-Main. 
spent  a  considerable  sum — Moses  Chages  and  per- 
haps David  Oppenheim  being-  at  the  bottom  of  the 
movement — in  their  efforts  to  obtain  from  the  em- 
peror a  prohibition  against  the  publication  of  the 
Prague  edition.  Eibeschiitz,  on  the  other  hand, 
used  his  connection  with  Christian  circles  to  avert 
perils  impending  over  the  Bohemian  Jews. 

Eibeschiitz's  early  heretical  leanings  were  not 
absolutely  forgotten.  When  the  post  of  rabbi  at 
Metz  became  vacant,  he  applied  for  it.  When  the 
council  were  occupied  with  the  election,  the  gray- 
haired  widow  of  the  late  rabbi  appeared  at  the 
meeting,  and  warned  them  not  to  insult  the  memory 
of  her  dead  husband  and  the  pious  rabbis  who  had 
preceded  him,  by  appointing  a  heretic,  perhaps 
worse  (a  Mumar),  their  successor.  This  solemn 
admonition  from  the  venerable  matron  who  was  re- 
lated to  the  wife  of  Eibeschiitz  so  impressed  the 
council  that  his  election  fell  through.  Jacob  Joshua 
Falk  was  appointed  at  Metz.  He  remained  there 
only  a  few  years,  and,  on  his  removal  to  Frankfort- 
on-the-Main,  Eibeschiitz  was  chosen  in  his  place. 
Before  he  entered  on  his  duties,  the  Austrian  War 
of  Succession  broke  out,  a  struggle  between  youthful, 
aspiring  Prussia,  under  Frederick  the  Great,  and 
decrepit  Austria,  under  Maria  Theresa.  A  French 
army,  in  conjunction  with  Prussia  and  the  anti- 
emperor  Charles  VII,  occupied  Prague.  The  sys- 
tematically brutalized  population  of  Bohemia  and 
Moravia  conceived  the  false  notion  that  the  Jews 
were  treacherously  taking  part  with  the  enemy.  It 
was  said  that  Frederick  the  Great,  the  Protestant 
heretic,  was  an  especial  patron  of  the  Jews.  In 
Moravia,  whither  the  Prussians  had  not  yet  pene- 
trated, occurred  passionate  outbursts  of  fury  against 
the  Jews.  An  Austrian  field-marshal  in  Moravia, 
under  the  delusion  of  the  Jews'  treachery,  issued  a 
decree  that  the  communities,  within  six  days,  should 

252  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

"pay  down  in  cash  50,000  Rhenish  gulden  at  Briinn, 
failing  which,  they  would  all  be  delivered  over  to 
pillage  and  the  sword."  Through  the  devoted  ex- 
ertions of  Baron  de  Aguilar  and  the  wealthy  rabbi, 
Issachar  Berush  Eskeles — two  members  of  the 
Vienna  community — this  decree  was  revoked  by  the 
empress,  Maria  Theresa  (March  21).  These  men 
had  another  opportunity  to  avert  a  crushing  disaster 
from  their  brethren. 

Jonathan  Eibeschiitz,  having  been  appointed  rabbi 
of  Metz,  either  from  self-conceit  or  in  order  to 
secure  for  himself  the  post  of  rabbi  in  French 
Lorraine,  imprudently  fraternized  with  the  French 
soldiery  who  occupied  the  town.  He  obtained  from 
the  French  commandant  a  safe-conduct  enabling 
him  to  travel  unmolested  to  France,  and  thereby 
aroused  in  the  Bohemian  population  the  suspicion 
that  he  had  a  treasonable  understanding  with  the 
enemy.  After  the  departure  of  the  French  (end  of 
1 742),  the  Austrian  authorities  held  an  inquiry  into 
his  conduct ;  and  all  his  property,  which  had  not 
been  seized  by  the  Croats,  was  sequestered.  Even- 
tually all  the  Moravian  and  Bohemian  Jews 
were  suspected  of  treason.  The  most  Catholic 
empress,  who  was  at  once  good-natured  and  hard- 
hearted, published  a  decree,  December  18,  1744, 
for  Bohemia,  January  2,  1745,  for  Moravia,  that  all 
Jews  in  these  royal  provinces  should,  "for  several 
important  reasons,"  within  a  brief  period  be  ban- 
ished ;  and  that  Jews  found  in  these  crown  lands 
after  the  expiration  of  this  period  should  be 
"  removed  by  force  of  arms."  Terrible  severity  was 
shown  in  enforcing  this  decree.  The  Jews  of  Prague, 
more  than  20,630  souls,  were  obliged  in  the  depth 
of  winter  hurriedly  to  leave  the  town  and  suffer  in 
the  villages  ;  and  the  royal  cities  were  forbidden  to 
harbor  them  even  temporarily.  The  position  of 
the  Bohemian  and  Moravian  Jews  was  pitiable. 
Whither  should  they  turn  ?  In  the  eighteenth  cen- 

CM.  VII.  "  FAMILIANTEN.  253 

tury  Jews  were  not  in  request  or  made  welcome  on 
account  of  their  wealth  as  they  had  been  before. 
As  though  Eibeschiitz  felt  himself  in  a  measure  to 


blame  for  their  misfortunes,  he  took  trouble  to  obtain 
relief  for  them.  He  preached  on  their  behalf  in 
Metz,  addressed  letters  to  the  communities  in  the 
south  of  France,  Bayonne  and  Bordeaux,  asking  for 
aid,  and  wrote  to  the  Roman  community  begging 
them  to  intercede  with  the  pope  on  behalf  of  their 
unhappy  brethren.  It  was  all  of  but  little  avail. 
More  efficacious  appears  to  have  been  the  interces- 
sion of  De  Aguilar,  Berush  Eskeles,  and  other  Jews 
connected  with  the  court  of  Vienna.  The  clergy, 
too,  spoke  on  their  behalf,  and  the  ambassadors  of 
Holland  and  England  interceded  warmly  and  ur- 
gently for  them.  The  empress  revoked  her  severe 
decree,  and  permitted  the  Jews  in  both  the  royal 
provinces  to  remain  for  an  indefinite  time  (May  15, 
1 745).  In  the  case  of  the  Prague  community  alone, 
which  was  chiefly  under  suspicion,  the  strictness  of 
the  decree  was  not  relaxed.  Not  till  some  years 
later,  in  consequence  of  a  declaration  by  the  states 
of  the  empire  "  that  their  departure  would  entail  a 
loss  of  many  millions"  was  the  residence  of  all 
Jews  prolonged  to  ten  years,  but  under  degrading 
conditions.  They  were  to  be  diminished  rather  than 
be  permitted  to  increase,  their  exact  number  being 
fixed.  Only  the  eldest  son  was  permitted  to  found 
a  family.  Some  20,000  "  Familianten,"  as  they  were 
called,  were  allowed  in  Bohemia  and  5,100  in  Mora- 
via, who  were  obliged  to  pay  annually  to  the  imperial 
treasury  a  sum  of  about  200,000  gulden.  These 
restrictions  were  maintained  almost  up  to  the 
Revolution  of  1848.  Jonathan  Eibeschiitz  rightly 
or  wrongly  was  declared  a  traitor  to  his  country, 
and  forbidden  ever  to  set  foot  on  Austrian  soil. 

If,  during  the  first  years  passed  in  Metz,  he  was 
so  popular  that  the  community  would  not  allow  him 
to  accept  the  post  of  rabbi  at  Fiirth,  offered  to  him, 

254  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

he  must  have  made  himself  disagreeable  later  on,  as 
during  his  difficulties,  he  could  not  find  supporters 
there,  nor  any  witnesses  to  his  innocence.  If  he 
committed  only  a  small  portion  of  the  mean  actions 
with  which  he  was  reproached,  his  life  must  have 
presented  a  striking  contrast  to  the  sermons  which 
he  composed.  Eibeschiitz  did  not  feel  at  home  in 
Metz  ;  he  missed  the  bustling,  argumentative  band 
of  young  admirers,  and  the  wide  platform  on  which 
to  display  his  Talmudical  erudition.  In  France 
there  were  fewer  students  of  the  Talmud.  It  was 
therefore  pardonable  that  he  strenuously  exerted 
himself  to  obtain  the  post  of  rabbi  of  the  "  three 
communities  "  (Hamburg,  Altona,  and  Wandsbeck). 
Thanks  to  the  efforts  of  his  connections  and 
admirers,  and  his  fame  as  the  most  distinguished 
of  Talmudists  and  miracle  workers,  the  choice  fell 
on  him.  As  the  Jews  of  the  three  towns  had  their 
own  civil  jurisdiction,  based  on  Rabbinical  law,  they 
required  an  acute  rabbi,  a  lawyer,  and  they  could 
not,  from  this  point  of  view,  have  made  a  better 

But  an  evil  spirit  seems  to  have  entered  Altona 
with  his  instalment,  which  threw  into  disorder  not 
only  the  three  communities,  but  also  the  whole  of 
German  and  Polish  Judaism.  Eibeschiitz,  though 
not  free  from  blame,  must  not  alone  be  made 
answerable.  The  tendency  of  the  age  was  culpable, 
and  Jacob  Emden,  an  unattached  rabbi,  was  more 
especially  the  prime  mover  in  the  strife.  He  desired 
to  unmask  hypocrisy,  and  in  doing  so  laid  bare  the 
nakedness  of  his  Jewish  contemporaries. 

Jacob  Emden  Ashkenazi  (abbreviated  to  Jabez ; 
born  1698,  died  1 776)  resembled  his  father  Chacham 
Zevi,  as  a  branch  its  parent  stem  ;  or  rather  he  made 
the  father  whom  he  admired  extravagantly  his  model 
in  everything.  The  perverted  spirit  of  the  age  pre- 
vented his  following  his  natural  bent  and  inspirations. 
A  true  son  of  the  Talmud,  he  seriously  believed  that 

CH.  VII.  JACOB    EMDEN.  255 

a  Jew  ought  to  occupy  himself  with  other  branches 
of  knowledge  only  during  "  the  hour  of  twilight," 
and  considered  it  unlawful  to  read  newspapers  on 
the  Sabbath.  He,  too,  was  well  versed  in  the 
Talmud,  and  set  a  high  value  on  the  Kabbala  and 
the  Zohar,  of  the  dangerous  extravagances  of  which 
he  at  first  knew  nothing.  Philosophy,  although  he 
possessed  no  knowledge  of  it,  was  an  abomination 
to  him.  In  his  perverseness  he  maintained  it  to  be 
impossible  that  the  philosophical  work,  "  The  Guide," 
could  have  been  composed  by  the  orthodox  rabbi, 
Maimuni.  In  character  he  was  just,  truth-loving, 
and  staunch,  herein  forming  a  sharp  contrast  to 
Jonathan  Eibeschiitz.  Whatever  he  considered  as 
truth  or  false,  he  did  not  hesitate  forthwith  to  defend 
or  condemn  with  incisive  acuteness  ;  it  was  contrary 
to  his  nature  to  conceal,  dissimulate,  hide  his  opinions, 
or  play  the  hypocrite.  He  differed  from  Eibeschiitz 
in  another  respect.  The  latter  was  agreeable,  pliant, 
careless,  cheerful,  and  sociable ;  Emden,  on  the 
contrary,  was  unsociable,  unbending,  earnest,  melan- 
choly, and  a  lover  of  solitude.  Well-to-do,  and 
maintaining  himself  by  his  business,  Emden  was 
always  disinclined  to  undertake  the  office  of  a  rabbi. 
He  was  too  well  aware  of  his  own  craving  for  inde- 
pendence, his  awkwardness,  and  impetuosity.  Only 
once  was  he  induced  to  accept  the  office  of  rabbi,  in 
Emden  (from  which  he  derived  his  surname)  ;  but 
he  relinquished  it  after  a  few  years  on  account  of 
his  dislike  to  the  work  and  from  ill-health,  and 
settled  in  Altona.  He  obtained  from  the  king  of 
Denmark  the  privilege  of  establishing  a  printing- 
press  ;  built  a  house  with  a  private  synagogue,  and, 
with  his  family  and  a  few  friends,  formed  a  com- 
munity within  the  community.  He  indeed  visited 
the  exchange,  but  he  lived  enwrapped  in  a  dream- 
world of  his  own. 

Emden  was  on  the  list  of  candidates  for  the  ap- 
pointment of  rabbi   to    the    "  three   communities." 

256  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

His  few  friends  worked  for  him,  and  urged  him  to 
exert  himself  to  try  and  obtain  the  post.  He,  how- 
ever, resisted  all  their  solicitations,  and  declared 
decidedly,  that  he  would  not  accept  the  election 
even  if  the  choice  fell  on  him,  but  he  was  none  the 
less  aggrieved  that  he  obtained  only  a  few  votes, 
and  entertained  an  unfriendly  feeling  towards  Eibe- 
schiitz,  because  he  was  preferred.  There  was 
another  peculiarity  in  Emden's  character:  his  anti- 
pathy to  heretics,  tils  father  Chacham  Zevi  had 
undauntedly  pursued  Nehemiah  Chayon  and  the 
other  Sabbatians,  and  had  brought  himself  into 
painful  positions  by  so  doing.  Emden  desired 
nothing  more  ardently  than  to  follow  his  father,  and 
would  not  have  shunned  martyrdom  in  the  cause. 
Since  the  return  of  Moses  Chages  to  Palestine,  he 
considered  himself  the  watchman  on  behalf  of  ortho- 
doxy among  his  fellow-believers.  He  was  a  Jewish 
grand  inquisitor,  and  was  in  readiness  to  hurl  the 
thunders  of  excommunication  whenever  heresy,  par- 
ticularly the  Sabbatian,  should  show  itself.  The 
opportunity  of  exercising  his  unpaid  office  of  inquis- 
itor, of  proving  his  zeal  for  orthodoxy,  and  even  of 
suffering  in  its  behalf,  was  granted  him  by  Jonathan 

At  the  time  when  Eibeschiitz  entered  on  his 
duties  as  rabbi  a  painful  agitation  was  prevalent 
among  the  Jews  of  the  "  three  communities."  Within 
the  year  several  young  women  had  died  in  child- 
birth. Every  wife  in  expectation  of  becoming  a 
mother  awaited  the  approaching  hour  with  increas- 
ing anxiety.  The  coming  of  the  new  rabbi,  who 
should  drive  away  the  destroying  angel  by  whom 
young  women  had  been  selected  as  victims,  was 

awaited  with  ea^er  lonmno-.     At  that  time  a  rabbi 

was  regarded  as  a  protector  against  every  species 

of  evil  (Megin),  a  sort  of  magician,  and  the  wives  of 
Hamburg  and  Altona  expected  still  greater  things 
from  Jonathan  Eibeschiitz,  who  had  been  heralded  by 


his  admirers  as  the  most  gifted  of  rabbis  and  a  worker 
of  miracles.  How  would  he  respond  to  these  exag- 
gerated expectations  ?  Even  if  he  had  been  honest, 
Eibeschiitz  would  have  been  forced  to  resort  to 
some  mystification  to  assert  his  authority  in  his  new 
office.  Therefore,  immediately  after  his  arrival,  he 
prepared  talismans — writings  for  exorcising  spirits 
(Cameos,  Kameoth) — for  the  terrified  women,  and 
indulged  in  other  forms  of  magic  to  impose  upon 
the  credulous.  He  had  distributed  similar  amulets 
in  Metz,  Frankfort-on-the-Main,  and  other  places. 
From  Frankfort  a  rumor  had  reached  Altona  that 
the  talismans  of  Eibeschiitz  were  of  an  altogether 
different  nature  to  what  they  usually  were,  and  that 
they  were  heretical  in  character.  Out  of  curiosity 
one  of  the  amulets  distributed  by  the  chief  rabbi 
Jonathan  Eibeschiitz,  was  opened  in  Altona,  and 
was  found  to  contain  the  following  invocation : 

"  O  God  of  Israel,  Thou  who  dwellest  in  the  adornment  of  Thy 
might  [a  Kabbalistic  allusion],  send  through  the  merit  of  Thy  servant 
Sabbata'i  Zevi  healing  for  this  woman,  whereby  Thy  name  and  the 
name  of  Thy  Messiah,  Sabbatai'  Zevi,  may  be  sanctified  in  the 

It  is  hard  to  tell  which  is  more  surprising — 
Eibeschiitz's  stupid  belief  in  and  attachment  to  the 
impostor  of  Smyrna,  who  had  apostatized  from 
Judaism,  or  his  imprudence  in  thus  exposing  himself. 
He  had  indeed  altered  the  words  a  little,  and  put 
certain  letters  to  represent  others  ;  but  he  must  have 
known  that  the  key  to  his  riddle  was  easy  to  find. 
These  attempts  at  deception  naturally  did  not 
remain  a  secret.  The  amulets  came  into  the  hands 
of  Emden,  who  no  longer  entertained  a  doubt  that 
Eibeschtitz  still  adhered  to  the  Sabbatian  heresy. 
Though  he  rejoiced  greatly  at  having  found  an 
opportunity  to  exercise  his  office  of  inquisitor,  he  in 
a  measure  recoiled  from  the  consequences  of  doing 
so.  Was  it  wise  to  begin  a  contest  with  a  man  who 
had  an  extensive  reputation  as  the  most  learned 

258  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

Talmudist  of  his  day,  as  an  orthodox  rabbi,  whose 
numerous  disciples — over  20,000  it  was  said — were 
rabbis,  officials  of  communities,  and  holders  of 
influential  posts,  who  clung  to  him  with  admiration, 
and  were  ready  to  form  a  phalanx  round  him  and 
exert  all  their  energies  in  his  defense  ?  On  the 
other  hand,  the  matter  could  not  be  suppressed, 
it  having  been  discussed  in  the  Jews'  quarter  and 
on  exchange.  The  elders  felt  obliged  to  interrogate 
Eibeschiitz  on  the  matter,  and  he  replied  by  a 
pitiful  evasion.  The  council,  whether  believing 
Eibeschiitz  or  not,  was  bound  to  lend  him  a  helping 
hand  in  burying  the  matter.  What  a  disgrace  for 
the  highly  respected  "  three  communities,"  which  a 
quarter  of  a  century  earlier  had  condemned  and 
branded  the  Sabbatians  as  heretics,  that  they  them- 
selves should  have  chosen  a  Sabbatian  as  their 
chief  rabbi  !  Jacob  Emden,  from  whose  zeal  the 
worst  was  to  be  dreaded,  was  partially  beguiled  by 
flatteries,  partially  intimidated  by  threats,  to  refrain 
from  publishing  the  affair.  But  these  threats  against 
him  necessarily  led  to  publicity.  Emden  solemnly 
declared  in  his  synagogue  that  he  held  the  writer  of 
the  amulets  to  be  a  Sabbatian  heretic  who  deserved 
to  be  excommunicated,  that  he  did  not  charge  the 


chief  rabbi  with  their  composition,  but  that  the  latter 
was  in  duty  bound  to  clear  himself  from  suspicion. 
This  declaration  caused  a  deep  sensation  in  the 
"three  communities,"  and  aroused  vehement  ani- 
mosity. The  council,  and  the  greater  part  of  the 
community,  regarded  it  as  a  gross  piece  of  presump- 
tion and  as  an  encroachment  upon  their  jurisdiction. 
The  friends  of  Eibeschiitz,  especially  his  disciples, 
fanned  the  flame.  Religious  hero-worship  was  so 
prevalent  that  some  did  not  hesitate  to  declare  that 
if  their  rabbi  believed  in  Sabbata'i  Zevi,  they  would 
share  his  belief.  Without  putting  Emden  on  trial 
the  council  arbitrarily  decreed  that  no  one,  under 
pain  of  excommunication,  should  attend  his  syna- 


gogue,  which  was  to  be  closed,  and  that  he  should 
not  publish  anything  at  his  printing  establishment. 
And  now  began  a  struggle  which  at  first  produced 
abundant  evil,  but  which  in  the  end  had  a  purifying 
effect.  Jonathan  Eibeschiitz  published  the  affair 
far  and  wide  among  his  numerous  friends  and 
disciples  in  Bohemia,  Moravia,  and  Poland,  and 
painted  himself  as  an  innocent  man  unjustly  accused, 
and  Jacob  Emden  as  an  audacious  fellow  who  had 
the  presumption  to  brand  him  as  a  heretic.  He  was 
hurried  along  from  one  untruth  to  another,  from 
violence  to  violence;  but  he  nevertheless  had  many 
partisans  to  support  him.  Jacob  Emden  on  the  con- 
trary stood  well-nigh  alone,  for  the  few  who  adhered 
to  him  had  not  the  courage  to  come  forward  openly. 
He  however  informed  his  friends,  Eibeschiitz's 
enemies,  on  the  same  day  of  what  had  occurred. 
The  foolish  affair  of  the  amulets  thus  acquired  a 
notoriety  which  it  was  impossible  to  check.  Every 
Jew  capable  of  forming  an  opinion  on  the  subject 
took  one  side  or  the  other  ;  the  majority  adhered 
to  Eibeschutz.  Many  indeed  could  not  conceive  it 
possible  that  so  distinguished  a  Talmudist  could  be 
a  Sabbatian,  and  the  accusation  against  him  was 
accounted  base  slander  on  the  part  of  the  irascible 
and  malignant  Emden.  Great  ignorance  prevailed 
with  regard  to  the  character  and  history  of  the  Sab- 
batians  (or  Shabs,  as  they  were  termed),  for  a 
quarter  of  a  century  had  passed  since  they  had 
been  everywhere  excommunicated.  Public  opinion 
was  therefore  at  first  in  Eibeschiitz's  favor. 

Eibeschutz  thoroughly  understood  how  to  win 
over  opponents  to  his  side,  and  to  soothe  them  with 
illusions.  He  convened  a  meeting  in  the  synagogue, 
and  took  a  solemn  oath  that  he  did  not  adhere  to  a 
single  article  of  the  Sabbatian  creed  ;  if  he  did, 
might  fire  and  brimstone  descend  on  him  from 
heaven !  He  went  on  to  anathematize  this  sect 
with  all  kinds  of  maledictions,  and  excommunicated 

260  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

his  adversaries  who  had  slandered  him,  and  orig- 
inated these  elements  of  strife.  This  solemn 
declaration  made  a  deep  impression.  Who  could 
doubt  the  innocence  of  a  rabbi  of  such  high  standing 
when  he  called  God  to  witness  respecting  it  ?  The 
council  of  the  "  three  communities"  considered  itself 
fully  justified  in  ordering  Emden,  as  a  common 
slanderer,  to  leave  Altona.  As  he  refused,  and  re- 
ferred to  the  charter  granted  him  by  the  king,  he 
was  cut  off  from  all  intercourse  with  others,  pursued 
by  intrigues,  and  relentlessly  persecuted.  This 
treatment  only  aroused  Emden  to  more  strenuous 
efforts.  Letters  had  meantime  been  sent  from 
Metz  with  other  amulets  (1751),  which  Eibeschtitz 
had  distributed  there,  and  the  genuineness  of  which 
he  had  himself  admitted,  clearly  demonstrating  that 
he  revered  Sabbata'i  Zevi  as  the  Messiah  and  saviour. 
The  Metz  amulets  were  in  the  main  of  the  same 
character : — 

"  In  the  name  of  the  God  of  Israel  ....  of  the  God  of  his 
anointed  Sabbata'i  Zevi,  through  whose  wounds  healing  is  come  to  us, 
who  with  the  breath  of  His  mouth  slays  the  Evil  One,  I  adjure  all 
spirits  and  demons  not  to  injure  the  bearer  of  this  amulet." 

A  judicial  examination  of  these  amulets  had  been 
made  by  the  council  of  rabbis  and  elders ;  and  all 
who  had  any  in  their  possession  were  commanded 
to  deliver  them  up  under  pain  of  excommunication. 
A  royal  procurator  confirmed  their  authenticity  ; 
that  is  to  say,  they  were  proved  by  the  evidence  of 
witnesses  under  oath  to  be  the  work  of  Eibeschutz  ; 
who  did  not  find  one  person  of  note  in  Metz  to 
maintain  his  honor.  It  was  some  small  satisfaction 
to  Jacob  Emden  to  know  that  he  did  not  stand 
alone  in  his  conflict ;  but  concurrence  in  his  views 
did  not  profit  him  much.  The  members  of  the 
"three  communities,"  with  the  exception  of  a  small 
minority,  adhered  to  Eibeschutz,  and  made  his  cause 
their  own.  It  was  forbidden  to  speak  a  slanderous 
word  against  the  chief  rabbi.  Elsewhere  his  enemies 

CH.  VII.  EMDEN    FLEES.  26 1 

made  plans — he  received  notice  from  all  quarters  as 
to  what  was  designed  against  him — but  there  was 
no  definite  scheme.  His  disciples,  on  the  other 
hand,  were  extraordinarily  zealous  in  his  behalf. 
One  of  these,  Chayim  of  Lublin,  had  the  courage, 
in  glorification  of  Eibeschiitz  and  in  defamation  of 
his  opponents,  to  excommunicate  three  of  the  latter 
in  his  synagogue,  Jacob  Emden,  Nehemiah  Reischer, 
and  an  elder  in  Metz,  Moses  Mayo,  because  they 
had  dared  slander  "  that  most  perfect  man,  Jonathan, 
in  whom  God  glorified  Himself."  This  decree  of 
excommunication  was  distributed  throughout  Poland 
for  observance  and  imitation.  The  remaining  Polish 
rabbis  agreed  with  it,  either  being  supporters  of 
Eibeschiitz,  or  having  been  bribed,  or  being  indiffer- 
ent in  the  matter.  By  way  of  Konigsberg  and 
Breslau,  for  example,  large  sums  were  sent  to  Poland 
to  commend  the  case  of  Eibeschiitz  to  the  rabbis  of 
that  country.  Matters  did  not  stop  at  excommuni- 
cations and  anathemas  ;  in  Altona  (lyar  25=May) 
they  culminated  in  a  riot.  A  hand-to-hand  fight 
took  place,  and  the  police  had  to  be  called  in.  In 
consequence,  Jacob  Emden,  believing  his  life  to  be 
endangered  through  the  fury  of  Eibeschiitz's  parti- 
sans, fled  to  Amsterdam  on  the  next  day,  and  was 
kindly  received  there.  Emden's  wife  was  ordered 
by  the  council  not  to  part  with  any  of  his  property, 
as  an  action  for  damages  would  be  brought  against 

Eibeschiitz  was  acute  enough  to  perceive  that  the 
residence  of  Jacob  Emden  in  Amsterdam  might 
prove  dangerous,  as  he  would  have  full  scope,  by 
means  of  his  trenchant  pen,  to  expose  the  rabbi's 
past  history  through  the  press.  To  counteract  this, 
Eibeschiitz  issued  to  his  followers  in  Germany, 
Poland,  and  Italy,  an  encyclical  (Letter  of  Zeal,  Sivan 
3,  1 751),  in  which,  under  the  guise  of  an  exhortation 
to  bear  testimony  to  his  orthodoxy,  he  besought 
them  to  make  his  cause  their  own.  He  urged  them 

262  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

to  prosecute  his  adversary  with  all  their  energy  and 
by  every  possible  means  :  it  would  be  set  to  their 
account  as  a  special  merit  by  the  Almighty.  It 
greatly  resembled  the  command  of  a  popular  general 
to  thousands  of  his  soldiers  to  attack,  and  pitilessly 
ill-treat  defenseless  men.  To  complete  the  delusion, 
he  induced  two  men,  devotedly  attached  to  mysti- 
cism, but  not  to  truth — Elijah  Olianow  and  Samuel 
Essingen  —  to  declare  that  his  amulets  contained 
nothine  dano-erous  or  heretical,  but  a  great  deal  of 

c^  ^5  *-^ 

deep  orthodox  mysticism  intelligible  only  to  the  few. 
Eibeschutz  had  not  yet  just  grounds  for  rejoicing. 
The  excess  of  insolence  of  the  newly-fledged  rabbi 
of  Lublin  in  excommunicating  gray-haired  rabbis 
aroused  the  leading  men  in  the  communities.  A 


cry  of  horror  resounded  from  Lorraine  to  Podolia 
at  this  arrogance,  justly  suspected  to  be  due  to  the 
instigation  of  Eibeschutz.  Three  rabbis  at  length 
combined,  Joshua  Falk,  Leb  Heschels,  and  Heil- 
mann,  and  others  joined  them.  Eibeschutz  was 
challenged  to  exculpate  himself  before  a  meeting 
of  rabbis  regarding  the  amulets  ascribed  to  him, 
which  undeniably  were  heretical.  As  was  to  be 
anticipated,  Eibeschutz  declined  to  justify  himself  in 
any  way,  and  the  confederates  took  council  as  to 
what  further  steps  to  take  against  him.  The 
scandal  continued  to  increase.  The  newspapers 
reported  the  quarrel  amongst  the  Jews  regarding 
the  rabbi  of  Altona.  Christians  naturally  could  not 
comprehend  the  nature  of  the  dispute.  It  was  said 
that  a  vehement  controversy  had  arisen  amongst 
the  Jews  as  to  whether  the  Messiah  had  or  had  not 
already  appeared.  The  Jews  were  derided,  because 
they  preferred  to  believe  in  the  impostor  Sabbata'i 
Zevi,  rather  than  in  Jesus.  This  reacted  on  the 
Jews,  and  the  two  parties  imputed  to  each  other 
the  offense  of  this  scandal,  this  "profanation  of 
God's  name."  An  energetic  man,  Baruch  Yavan,  of 
Poland,  transferred  the  schism  to  that  country.  He 


was  a  disciple  of  Falk,  agent  to  the  notorious  Saxon 
minister  Bruhl,  and  enjoyed  considerable  reputation 
in  Poland.  Through  his  intrigues,  a  Polish  magnate 
deprived  Chayim  Lublin  of  his  office  as  rabbi,  and 
ordered  him  and  his  father  to  be  thrown  into  prison 
(Elul=September,  1751).  In  Poland  the  contro- 
versy assumed  an  ugly  character — bribery,  informa- 
tion through  spies,  acts  of  violence,  and  treachery 
being-  amono-  its  leading  features.  Seceders  from 

^>  fj  <-> 

each  party  betrayed  the  secrets  of  one  to  the  other. 
Every  fair  and  every  synod  were  battlefields,  where 
the  partisans  of  Eibeschiitz  and  Falk  contended. 
The  proceedings  at  the  synods  were  more  disorderly 
than  those  in  the  Polish  Reichstag.  When  the  de- 
fenders of  either  side  proved  more  numerous  or 
more  energetic,  the  weaker  party  was  excommun- 
icated. The  supporters  of  Eibeschiitz  were  in  the 
main  more  active.  Count  Briihl  made  them  as  many 
empty  promises  of  protection,  as  he  bestowed  on 
their  opponents  through  Baruch  Yavan. 

In  Germany,  naturally,  matters  were  conducted 
with  more  moderation.  The  triumvirate  of  rabbis 
published  a  decision  to  the  effect  that  the  writer 
of  the  Sabbatian  amulets  should  be  cut  off  from 
communion  with  Israel.  Every  devout  Jew  lay 
under  obligation  to  persecute  him  to  the  utmost 
of  his  power.  No  one  might  study  the  Talmud 
under  his  guidance.  All  who  supported  his  cause 
were  to  be  excommunicated.  No  mention  was 
made  of  Eibeschiitz's  name.  Many  German  rabbis 
concurred  in  this  moderate  decision,  as  also  the 
Venetian  rabbis  who  had  excommunicated  Luzzatto. 
The  resolution  was  delivered  to  Eibeschiitz  and  the 
council  of  the  "  three  communities "  (February, 
1752),  and  notice  was  given  to  Eibeschiitz  that 
within  two  months  he  must  clear  himself'before  a  rab- 
binical court  of  arbitration  of  the  suspicion  that  he 
was  the  author  of  heretical  amulets,  failing  which  his 
name  would  be  publicly  stigmatized.  This  sentence 

264  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

of  excommunication  was  to  be  printed  by  the 
Venetian  council  of  rabbis,  and  published  throughout 
the  East  and  Africa.  But  Eibeschiitz  understood 
how  to  meet  this  blow  craftily.  The  Italian  rabbis 
were,  for  the  most  part,  reluctant  to  burn  their 
fingers  in  this  violent  quarrel,  and  declined  to  par- 
ticipate in  any  way.  The  council  of  rabbis  at  Leg- 
horn, especially  Malachi  Cohen,  the  last  of  the  Ital- 
ian rabbinical  authorities,  inclined  towards  the  side 
of  Eibeschiitz.  The  Portuguese  in  Amsterdam  and 
London  designedly  kept  themselves  aloof  from  this 
domestic  squabble  among  the  Germans  and  Poles. 
One  broker  of  Amsterdam,  David  Pinto,  alone 
espoused  Eibeschiitz's  cause,  and  threatened  Emden 
with  his  anger  if  he  continued  his  hostility.  The 
council  of  rabbis  in  Constantinople,  dazzled  by 
Eibeschiitz's  illustrious  name,  or  in  some  way  de- 
ceived, declared  decidedly  for  him,  but  would  not 
pronounce  a  direct  sentence  of  excommunication 
against  his  antagonists.  What  they  neglected  was 
done  by  a  so-called  envoy  from  Jerusalem,  Abraham 
Israel,  a  presumptuous  mendicant,  who  as  a  repre- 
sentative of  the  Holy  Land  and  the  Jewish  nation, 
imprecated  and  anathematized  all  who  should  utter 
a  slanderous  word  against  Eibeschiitz.  Thus  almost 
the  whole  of  Israel  was  excommunicated ;  on  the 
one  side  those  who  showed  enmity  towards  the 
illustrious  chief  rabbi  of  the  "  three  communities," 
and  on  the  other  those  who  supported  that  heretic. 
Thus  the  effects  of  excommunication  were  nullified, 
or  rather  it  became  ridiculous,  and  with  it  a  phase 
of  rabbinical  Judaism  disappeared. 

A  new  turn  was  given  this  disagreeable  con- 
troversy when  it  was  transferred  from  its  home  to 
the  law  courts  of  the  Christians.  The  fanaticism 
of  Eibeschiitz's  followers  was  more  to  blame  than 
the  conduct  of  their  opponents.  One  of  the  elders 
of  Altona,  who  had  so  far  remained  true  to  the 
cause  of  the  persecutors,  in  a  letter  to  his  brother 


showed  himself  somewhat  doubtful  of  its  justice. 
This  letter  was  opened  by  the  followers  of  Eibe- 
schiitz,  and  the  writer  was  set  down  as  a  traitor, 
expelled  from  the  council,  ill-treated,  and  threatened 
with  banishment  from  Altona.  There  remained  no 
alternative  for  him  but  to  address  himself  to  the 
government  of  Holstein,  to  the  king  of  Denmark, 
Frederick  V,  and  unsparingly  expose  all  the  illegali- 
ties, meannesses,  and  violence  of  which  Eibeschiitz 
and  his  party  had  been  guilty.  The  injustice  of  the 
council  towards  Jacob  Emden  and  his  wife  was 
discussed  in  connection  with  the  affair.  An  authenti- 
cated copy  of  the  suspected  amulets  was  translated 
into  German.  The  trial  was  conducted  with  extreme 
bitterness ;  both  parties  spared  no  expense.  The 
plaintiff  and  his  faction  in  their  anger  did  not  confine 
themselves  to  necessary  statements,  but  treacher- 
ously stigmatized  as  a  crime  much  that  was  of  an 
innocent  nature.  King  Frederick,  who  loved  justice, 
and  his  minister  Bernstorff,  gave  judgment  against 
the  followers  of  Eibeschiitz  (June  3,  1752).  The 
council  of  Altona  was  severely  censured  for  its  illegal 
and  harsh  treatment  of  Jacob  Emden,  and  punished 
with  a  fine  of  100  thalers.  Emden  was  not  only  per- 
mitted to  return  to  Altona,  but  the  use  of  his  syna- 
gogue and  his  printing  establishment  was  restored. 
Eibeschiitz  was  deprived  of  authority  as  rabbi  of  the 
Hamburg  community,  and  ordered  to  clear  himself 
with  regard  to  the  incriminating  amulets,  and  to 
answer  fifteen  questions) propounded  to  him.  Events 
thus  took  an  unfortunate  turn  for  him.  Even  the 
well-intentioned  letter  of  a  partisan  sent  from  Poland 
served  to  show  how  desperate  his  case  was.  Ezekiel 
Landau  (born  1720,  died  1793)  as  a  young  man  had 
aroused  hopes  that  he  would  become  a  second 
Jonathan  Eibeschiitz  in  rabbinical  learning  and 
sagacity.  His  opinion  as  rabbi  of  Jampol  (Podolia) 
carried  great  weight.  Landau  wrote  with  youthful 
simplicity  and  straightforwardness  to  Eibeschiitz 

266  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.    VII. 

that  the  amulets  which  he  had  seen  were  without 
doubt  Sabbatian  and  heretical.  He,  therefore,  could 
not  believe  that  the  honored  and  devout  rabbi  of 
Altona  had  written  them.  For  that  reason  he  was 
as  much  in  favor  of  condemning  the  amulets,  as  of 
upholding  Jonathan  Eibeschutz  and  declaring  war 
against  his  adversaries.  He  entreated  Eibeschutz 
to  condemn  the  amulets  as  heretical,  and  when 
occasion  offered  clear  himself  from  the  accusation 
that  he  was  the  author  of  the  slanderous  writings, 
full  of  unworthy  expressions  about  God,  and  to 
condemn  them  leaf  by  leaf.  This  was  a  severe 
blow  from  the  hand  of  a  friend.  As  Eibeschutz 
had  acknowledged  the  amulets  to  be  genuine,  and 
had  only  sophistically  explained  away  their  heresy, 
he  was  now  in  evil  case.  A  follower  of  Emden's 
in  addition  published  the  correspondence  and  decis- 
ions of  Eibeschutz's  enemies,  which  stigmatized  his 
conduct,  together  with  an  account  of  the  amulets 
and  their  true  interpretation  ("The  Language  of 
Truth,"  printed  August,  1752).  Emden  himself 
published  the  history  of  the  false  Messiah,  Sabbata'i 
Zevi,  and  the  visionaries  and  knaves  who  had  suc- 
ceeded him,  down  to  Chayon  and  Luzzatto,  vividly 
describing  the  errors  and  disorderly  excesses  of 
the  Sabbatians  for  his  own  generation,  which  was 
careless  with  regard  to  historical  events,  and  had 
but  scanty,  confused  knowledge  on  the  subject. 
Thus  it  was  made  clear  to  many  that  the  Sabbatian 
heresy  aimed  at  nothing  less  than  the  dethronement 
of  the  God  of  Israel  in  favor  of  a  phantom,  and 
the  dissolution  of  Judaism  by  means  of  Kabbal- 
istic  chimeras.  But  the  worst  that  befell  Eibeschutz 
was  that  Emden  himself  returned  unmolested  to 
Altona,  and  had  the  prospect  of  being  indemnified 
for  his  losses. 

The  danger  in  which  Eibeschutz  found  himself  of 
being  unmasked  as  a  heretic  in  the  courts  of  law, 
and  before  the  eyes  of  the  world,  determined  him  to 


a  step  which  a  rabbi  of  the  old  stamp  of  honest 
piety,  even  under  peril  of  death,  would  not  have 
taken.  He  associated  himself  with  an  apostate 
baptized  Jew,  formerly  his  pupil,  in  order  to  obtain 
assistance  from  him  in  his  difficulties.  Moses  Ger- 
son  Cohen,  of  Mitau,  who,  on  his  mother's  side, 
was  descended  from  Chayim  Vital  Calabrese,  had 
studied  the  Talmud  under  Eibeschiitz  in  Prague  for 
seven  years,  then  traveled  in  the  East,  and,  after 
his  return  to  Europe,  had  been  baptized  in  Wolfen- 
biittel  under  the  name  Charles  Anton.  He  was  ap- 
pointed by  his  patron,  the  duke  of  Brunswick, 
Reader  in  Hebrew  in  Helmstadt.  It  was  after- 
wards proved  that  this  convert  had  become  a  Chris- 
tian solely  from  self-interest. 

To  him  the  chief  rabbi  of  the  "  three  communi- 
ties "  secretly  repaired  in  order  to  induce  him  to 
compose  a  vindication,  or  rather  a  panegyric,  of  his 
conduct.  It  is  evident  on  the  face  of  it,  even  at  the 
present  day,  that  the  work  was  written  "to  order," 
and  it  transpired  that  Eibeschiitz  had  dictated  it  to 
Charles  Anton.  He  is  extolled  as  the  most  sas^a- 


cious  and  upright  Jew  of  his  time,  as  a  man  versed 
in  philosophy,  history,  and  mathematics,  and  as  a 
persecuted  victim.  Jacob  Emden,  on  the  other 
hand,  is  represented  as  an  incompetent,  envious  fel- 
low. Anton  dedicated  this  work  to  the  kingr  of 


Denmark,  and  commended  to  him  the  case  of  the 
alleged  innocent  and  persecuted  man.  This  work, 
with  another  cunningly  chosen  expedient,  had  favor- 
able results  for  Eibeschiitz.  He  had  screened  him- 
self not  only  behind  a  baptized  Jew,  but  behind  a 
princess.  King  Frederick  V  had  married,  as  his 
second  wife,  a  princess  of  Brunswick,  Maria  Juliana, 
and  a  Jewish  agent — a  partisan  of  Eibeschiitz — did 
business  at  the  court  of  Brunswick.  The  latter 
made  the  most  of  his  direct  and  indirect  influence 
with  the  young  Danish  princess,  and  said  a  good 
word  to  her  on  behalf  of  the  chief  rabbi  under  accu- 

268  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

sation  of  heresy.  With  the  comment  that  the  ma- 
jority of  rabbis  except  some  litigious,  malevolent  in- 
dividuals sided  with  Eibeschutz — proof  of  the  justice 
of  his  cause — the  court  suppressed  the  amulet  case. 
A  royal  decree,  forbidding  the  continuation  of  this 
controversy,  was  read  aloud  in  the  Altona  syna- 
gogue (February  7,  1753).  At  the  suggestion  of 
the  government  the  vote  of  the  community  with  re- 
gard to  Eibeschiitz  was  again  taken,  and  resulted  in 
his  favor.  He  then  took  the  oath  of  fealty  to  the 
king,  and  his  position  was  more  assured  than  ever. 
His  sagacity  had  a  second  time  gained  the  day,  but 
his  success  was  only  transitory.  The  number  of  his 
enemies  had  materially  increased  even  in  Altona 
through  the  far-reaching  dissensions  and  the  better 
knowledge  of  his  character  gleaned  little  by  little. 
His  adversaries  did  not  allow  themselves  to  be 
silenced  by  the  king's  arbitrary  decision  without 
making  another  effort;  and  the  rabbinical  trium- 
virate urged  them  to  petition  for  a  revision  of  the 
heresy  proceedings  against  Eibeschiitz,  and  try  to 
convince  the  king  that  the  assertion  that  the  major- 
ity of  the  rabbis  were  his  partisans  was  entirely 
false,  that,  on  the  contrary,  he  was  supported  only 
by  his  relatives  and  disciples.  The  three  rabbis 
and  the  rabbi  of  Hanover  laid  before  the  council  a 
demand  to  consider  Eibeschiitz  as  excommunicated, 
and  forbid  him  to  exercise  any  rabbinical  function 
until  he  repented  of  his  heresy,  and  promised 
amendment.  Hostile  writings  by  Emden  and 
others  fed  the  fire  of  dissension;  they  were  writ- 
ten in  vehement,  pitiless  language  and  were  full 
of  petty  gossip.  To  calm  the  public  wrath,  the  Al- 
tona council  with  great  difficulty  induced  Eibeschutz 
to  make  a  binding  declaration  that  he  was  prepared 
of  his  own  free-will  to  justify  himself  before  an  im- 
partial rabbinical  court  of  arbitration,  and  submit  to 
its  decision  (beginning  of  1 753).  This  only  inflamed 
the  strife.  Eibeschutz  proposed  as  his  judges 


two  rabbis,  of  Lissa  and  Glogau,  men  but  little 
known,  who  were  to  add  a  third  to  their  number. 
But  the  opposite  party  insisted  that  the  court  be 
composed  of  Joshua  Falk  and  his  colleagues.  This 
angered  Eibeschiitz,  who  lost  the  calmness  of  mind 
he  had  hitherto  maintained.  At  one  time  he  desir- 
ed to  submit  his  cause  to  the  rabbis  of  Constantino- 
ple, at  another  he  proposed  the  Synod  of  the  Four 
Polish  Countries,  to  meet  in  Jaroslav  late  in  the 
summer  of  1753.  He  appears  to  have  reckoned  on 
obtaining  a  favorable  sentence  from  this  assemblage 
of  many  rabbis  and  influential  persons.  Relying  on 
this,  he  believed  that  he  could  easily  free  himself 
from  the  compact  forced  upon  him,  of  submitting  to 
arbitration.  He  is  said  to  have  managed  this  by 
giving  information  at  court  that  the  royal  preroga- 
tive had  been  encroached  upon  by  this  proposed 
appeal  from  the  judgment  of  the  sovereign  to  that 
of  the  rabbis.  Both  parties  were  therefore  fined  by 
the  magistrates.  This  only  increased  his  enemies, 
and  several  of  his  warmest  supporters,  former  mem- 
bers of  the  communal  council,  renounced  him,  and 
proclaimed  him,  not  only  a  heretic,  but  an  intriguer. 
These  opponents  complained  once  more  to  the  king 
with  regard  to  the  prevalent  dissensions  in  the  com- 
munity, of  which  he  was  the  cause.  They  could 
not,  they  said,  obtain  impartial  judgment  from  him 
in  their  lawsuits,  because  he  allowed  himself  to  be 
guided  in  his  decisions  by  spite  and  passion.  The 
justice-loving  king  gave  these  complaints  his  atten- 
tion. He  desired  to  arrive  at  a  definite  conclusion 
with  regard  to  the  case,  whether  Eibeschiitz  was  an 
arch-heretic,  as  his  opponents  maintained,  or  a  per- 
secuted innocent,  as  he  described  himself. 

With  this  in  view  the  king  ordered  certain  Chris- 
tian professors  and  theologians  versed  in  Hebrew, 
to  give  him  their  opinion  with  regard  to  the  amulets. 
Eibeschiitz  felt  uneasy  at  the  turn  affairs  had  taken; 
he  feared  that  the  matter  might  prove  disastrous  to 


him.  To  place  himself  in  a  favorable  light  he  re- 
solved on  a  course  which  he  had  hitherto  hesitated 
to  adopt — to  dispose  public  opinion  in  his  favor 
through  the  press.  As  things  then  stood,  there  was 
no  other  course  open  to  him,  and  he  therefore  com- 
posed a  defense — "  The  Tables  of  Testimony,"  com- 
pleted Tammuz  18,  end  of  June,  1755,  the  first  pro- 
duction of  his  pen.  As  might  have  been  expected 
from  a  man  of  his  ability,  it  is  skillfully  worked  out ; 
and  he  places  his  case  in  a  favorable  light.  But 
Eibeschiitz  was  unable  to  convince  either  his  im- 
partial contemporaries  or  posterity  of  his  innocence. 
On  the  contrary,  his  vindication,  and  much  of  the 
evidence  adduced,  clearly  betray  his  guilt.  Emden 
and  his  disciple  David  Cans  did  not  fail  to  publish 
refutations,  drawing  attention  to  weak  points,  and 
throwing  doubt  on  the  testimony  in  favor  of 

A  publication  by  a  professor  and  pastor,  David 
Frederick  Megerlin,  early  in  1756,  made  a  fresh 
diversion,  apparently  in  Eibeschiitz's  favor,  with 
respect  to  this  vexed  question.  This  confused 
babbler  and  proselytizer,  induced  by  the  order  of 
the  Danish  king  to  pronounce  an  opinion  upon  the 
matter,  imagined  that  he  had  discovered  the  key  to 
the  enigmatical  amulets  of  Eibeschiitz,  the  disputed 
characters  which  his  opponents  explained  as  refer- 
ring to  Sabbatai  Zevi  being  nothing  less  than  a  mys- 
tic allusion  to  Jesus  Christ !  The  chief  rabbi  of  Al- 
tona  and  Hamburg  was  at  heart  attached  to  the 
Christian  faith,  Megerlin  maintained,  but  dared  not 
come  out  openly  through  fear  of  the  Jews.  He 
himself,  it  is  true,  and  his  disciple,  Charles  Anton, 
had  explained  these  amulets  in  quite  another  way, 
not  in  a  Christian  sense  ;  but  the  latter  had  not 
comprehended  the  deeper  meaning,  and  Eibeschiitz 
had  composed  his  vindication  only  for  Polish  Jews. 
In  his  heart  of  hearts  the  chief  rabbi  was  a  true  be- 
liever in  Christianity.  Megerlin,  therefore,  called 


on  the  king  of  Denmark  to  protect  Eibeschiatz 
against  the  persecutions  of  the  Jews,  especially 
against  the  calumnies  of  Jacob  Emden,  who  hated 
and  persecuted  the  Christians,  as  his  father  had 
persecuted  Chayon,  also  a  secret  Christian.  In  his 
folly  Megerlin  exhorted  Eibeschiitz  most  earnestly 
to  throw  off  his  mask,  resign  the  post  of  rabbi  of  the 
"  three  communities,"  and  allow  himself  to  be  bap- 
tized. He  also  addressed  a  circular  letter  to  the 
Jews,  urging  them  to  arrange  a  general  convention 
of  rabbis  and  openly  glorify  Christianity.  Had 
Eibeschiitz  possessed  a  spark  of  honor  he  would 
have  repudiated,  even  at  the  risk  of  losing  the  king's 
favor,  his  supposed  adherence  to  Christianity.  But 
he  did  not  take  the  smallest  step  to  answer  the 
charge  of  hypocrisy  ;  he  was  content  to  profit  by  it. 
Megerlin's  arguments,  foolish  as  they  were,  con- 
vinced King  Frederick.  He  revoked  the  suspension 
from  office  with  which  Eibeschiitz  was  threatened, 
and  decreed  that  the  Jews  of  the  Altona  community 
should  show  him  obedience.  The  Hamburg  senate, 
also,  ao"ain  acknowledged  him  as  rabbi  of  the  Ger- 

c>  o 

man  community.  Eibeschiitz  exulted,  and  his  ad- 
mirers prepared  a  solemn  triumph  for  him 
(Chanukkah — middle  of  December,  1756).  His  dis- 
ciples, clad  as  knights,  marched  through  the  streets 
shouting,  till  they  reached  the  rabbi's  house,  where 
they  arranged  a  dancing-party.  The  six  years  of 
strife  which  had  aroused  every  evil  passion  among 
the  Jews,  from  Lorraine  to  Podolia,  and  from  the 
Elbe  to  the  Po,  ended  apparently  in  a  dance.  But 
at  the  same  time  Eibeschiitz  in  another  direction 
suffered  defeat,  which  branded  him  in  the  eyes  of 
those  who  had  hitherto  spoken  favorably  of  him  and 
supported  him. 

Facts  flatly  contradicted  his  assertion,  put  forward 
through  his  mouthpiece,  Charles  Anton,  that  "  there 
were  no  longer  any  Sabbatians."  They  raised  their 
serpent  heads  and  shot  forth  their  tongues  full  of 

2-2  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

poisonous   rage   at   this  very  moment.     The  seed 
which  Chayim  Malach  had  scattered  in  Poland  was 
by  no  means  checked  in  growth  by  the  anathemas 
of  the  rabbis.    They  had  only  forced  the  Sabbatians 
to   disguise  themselves   better,  and  to  counterfeit 
death  ;&but  they  flourished  secretly,  and  their  follow- 
ing increased.     Some  towns  in  Podolia  and  Pakotia 
were  full  of  Talmudists  who,  in  Sabbatian  fashion, 
scoffed  at  the  Talmud,  rejected  the  law  of  Judaism, 
and,  under  the  mask  of  ascetic  discipline,  lived  im- 
pure  lives.     The   disorders   to  which  the  dispute 
regarding  Eibeschiitz  had  given  rise  in  Poland  en- 
couraged  the  Polish  Sabbatians   to   venture   from 
their  hiding-places  and  raise  their  masks  a  little. 
The  time  seemed  favorable  for  an  attempt  to  cast 
aside  odious  religious  rites,  and  openly  to  come  for- 
ward as  anti-Talmudists.     They  needed  a  spirited 
leader  to  gather  the  scattered  band,  give  it  cohesion, 
and  mark  out  a  line  of  action.     This  leader  now 
presented  himself,  and  with  his  appearance  began  a 
new  movement  which  threw  the  whole  Jewish  world 
of  Poland  into  intense  agitation  and  despair.     This 
leader  was  the  notorious  Jacob  Frank. 

Jankiev  Lejbovicz  (that  is,  Jacob  son  of  Leb)  of 
Galicia,  was  one  of  the  worst,  most  subtle,  and  most 
deceitful  rascals  of  the  eighteenth  century.  He 
could  cheat  the  most  sagacious,  and  veil  his  frauds 
so  cleverly  that  after  his  death  many  still  believed 
him  an  admirable  man,  who  bore  through  life,  and 
carried  to  the  grave,  most  weighty  secrets.  He 
understood  the  art  of  deception  even  in  his  youth, 
and  boasted  how  he  had  duped  his  own  father. 
As  a  young  man  he  traveled  in  Turkey  in  the  service 
of  a  Jewish  gentleman,  and  in  Salonica  entered  into 
relations  with  the  Sabbatians  or  Jewish  Moslems 
there.  If  he  did  not  learn  from  them  how  to  work 
deceptive  and  mystifying  miracles,  he  at  all  events 
learnt  indifference  towards  all  forms  of  religion. 
He  became  a  Mahometan,  as  afterwards  a  Cath- 

CH.    VII.  JACOB    FRANK.  2/3 

olic,  for  so  long  as  it  served  his  purpose,  and 
changed  his  religion  as  one  changes  one's  clothes. 
From  his  long  sojourn  in  Turkey  he  acquired  the 
name  of  Frank,  or  Frenk.  Ignorant  of  Talmudical 
literature,  as  he  himself  confessed,  he  was  acquainted 
with  the  Zoharist  Kabbala,  explained  it  to  suit  his 
purpose,  and  took  peculiar  pleasure  in  the  doctrine 
of  metempsychosis,  by  virtue  of  which  the  successive 
Messiahs  were  not  visionaries  or  impostors,  but  the 
embodiment  of  one  and  the  same  Messianic  soul. 
King  David,  Elijah,  Jesus,  Mahomet,  Sabbatai  Zevi, 
and  his  imitators,  down  to  Berachya,  were  one  and 
the  same  personality,  which  had  assumed  different 
bodily  forms.  Why  should  not  he  himself  be  another 
incarnation  of  the  Messiah  ?  Although  Jacob  Frank, 
or  Lejbovicz,  loved  money  dearly,  he  accounted  it 
only  a  lever  by  which  to  raise  himself;  he  wished  to 
play  a  brilliant  part  and  surround  himself  with  a 
mysterious  halo.  Circumstances  were  exceptionally 
favorable  to  him.  He  married  in  Nicopolis 
(Turkey)  a  very  beautiful  wife,  through  whom  he 
attracted  followers.  He  collected  by  degrees  a 
small  number  of  Turkish  and  Wallachian  Jews,  who 
shared  his  loose  principles,  and  held  him  to  be  a 
superior  being — the  latest  embodiment  of  the  Mes- 
siah. He  could  not,  however,  carry  on  his  mischiev- 
ous schemes  in  Turkey,  where  he  was  persecuted. 
Frank  appears  to  have  obtained  intelligence  of 
the  schism  in  Poland  caused  by  the  Eibeschiitz  con- 
troversy, and  thought  that  he  might  utilize  the 
propitious  moment  to  gather  round  him  the  Sab- 
batians  of  Podolia,  and  play  a  part  among  them,  and 
by  means  of  them.  He  came  suddenly  amongst  them, 
visiting  many  towns  of  Podolia  and  the  Lemberg  dis- 
trict, where  secret  Sabbatians  resided,  with  whom  he 
may  have  been  in  communication  previously.  They 
fell,  so  to  speak,  into  his  arms.  Frank  needed  follow- 
ers, and  they  were  seeking  a  leader.  Nowthcy  found 
one  who  had  come  to  them  with  a  full  purse,  of  the 

274  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VII. 

contents  of  which  he  was  not  sparing.  In  a  trice 
he  won  the  Sabbatians  of  Podolia.  Frank  disclosed 
himself  to  them  as  the  successor  of  Sabbata'i,  or, 
what  was  the  same  thing,  as  the  new-born  soul  of 
the  Sabbatian  chief  Berachya.  What  this  manifes- 
tation signified  was  known  to  the  initiated.  They 
understood  by  it  the  blasphemous  and  at  the  same 
time  absurd  theory  of  a  kind  of  Trinity,  consisting  of 
the  Holy  and  Most  Ancient  One,  the  Holy  King, 
and  a  female  person  in  the  Godhead.  Frank,  like 
his  predecessors,  attributed  the  chief  importance  to 
the  Holy  King,  at  once  the  Messiah  and  God  incar- 
nate, and  possessed  of  all  power  on  earth  and  in 
heaven.  Frank  ordered  his  followers  to  address 
him  as  the  Holy  Lord.  In  virtue  of  his  partici- 
pation in  the  Godhead,  the  Messiah  was  able  to  do 
all  things,  even  miracles, and  Frank  did  perform  mira- 
cles, as  his  followers  maintained.  The  adherents 
whom  he  brought  in  his  train,  and  whom  he  gathered 
round  him  in  Poland,  believed  so  strongly  in  his 
divine  nature  that  they  addressed  to  him  mystic 
prayers  in  the  language  of  the  Zohar,  with  the  same 
formulas  that  the  Donmah  of  Salonica  were  wont  to 
address  to  Jacob  Querido  and  Berachya.  In  short, 
Frank  formed  a  sect  from  the  Sabbatians  of  Podolia, 
called  by  his  name,  "  Frankists."  Their  founder 
taught  his  disciples  to  acquire  riches  for  themselves, 
even  by  fraudulent  and  dishonest  means.  Deceit 
was  nothing  more  than  skillful  artifice.  Their  chief 
task  was  to  undermine  rabbinical  Judaism,  and  to 
oppose  and  annihilate  the  Talmud.  This  task  they 
undertook  with  a  passion  which  perhaps  owed  its 
origin  to  the  constraints  imposed  upon  them  through 
fear  of  persecution.  The  Frankists  opposed  the 
Zohar  to  the  Talmud,  and  Simon  bar  Yochai,  its 
alleged  author,  to  the  other  authorities  of  the 
Talmud,  as  though  in  earlier  times  the  former  had 
combated  the  latter  and  accused  them  of  being  the 
falsifiers  of  Judaism.  The  true  teaching  of  Moses 



was  said  to  be  contained  only  in  the  Zohar,  which 
had  declared  the  whole  of  rabbinical  Judaism  to  be 
on  a  lower  level — a  fact  which  blundering  Kabbalists 
had  so  long  overlooked.  The  Frankists,  more  clear- 
sighted, had  discovered  the  half-concealed  secret  of 
the  Zohar.  They  rightly  called  themselves  anti- 
Talmudists  as  well  as  Zoharites.  With  a  certain 
childish  frowardness  they  did  exactly  those  things 
which  rabbinical  Judaism  strongly  prohibited,  and 
neglected  those  which  the  latter  prescribed,  not 
only  in  points  of  ritual,  but  also  with  regard  to 
marriage  and  the  laws  of  chastity.  Among  these 
anti-Talmudic  Frankists  were  found  rabbis  and  so- 
called  preachers  (Darshanim,  Maggidim),  Jehuda 
Leb  Krysa,  rabbi  of  Nadvorna,  and  Rabbi  Nachman 
ben  Samuel  Levi  of  Busk.  Of  especial  reputation 
among  Polish  Sabbatians  was  Elisha  Schor  of 
Rohatyn,  an  aged  man,  descended  from  distin- 
guished Polish  rabbis.  He,  his  sons,  his  daughter 
Chaya  (who  knew  the  Zohar  by  heart,  and  was  con- 
sidered a  prophetess),  his  grandson,  and  sons-in-law 
were  from  an  early  period  thoroughgoing  Sabba- 
tians, to  whom  it  was  a  positive  pleasure  to  deride 
rabbinical  precepts. 

During  the  first  months  after  his  return  to 
Poland,  Frank  held  secret  conferences  with  the 
anti-Talmudists  of  Podolia,  as  a  public  demon- 
stration was  attended  with  danger.  One  day, 
he  with  about  twenty  of  his  followers  was  sur- 
prised in  Laskorun  in  a  conventicle.  The  Frank- 
ists declared  that  they  had  been  singing  psalms 
in  the  Zohar  language,  while  their  adversaries 
asserted  that  they  had  been  performing  an  indecent 
dance  around  a  half-naked  woman,  and  kissing  her. 
Many  gathered  about  the  inn  to  force  their  way  in  ; 
others  ran  to  the  police  to  give  information  that  a 
Turk  had  stolen  into  Podolia  to  pervert  the  Jews 
to  the  Mahometan  religion  and  make  them  emigrate 
to  Turkey,  and  that  those  who  had  joined  him  were 


leading  an  Adamite,  that  is  to  say  dissolute,  life.  The 
police    immediately    interposed,    broke    open    the 
barricaded    doors,     and    expelled    the     Frankists. 
Frank  was  dismissed  next  day  as  a  foreigner,  and 
repaired  to  the  neighboring  Turkish  territory  ;  and 
the  Podolian  Frankists  were  kept  in  custody.     The 
incident   made  a  sensation,  and  was  perhaps  inten- 
tionally exaggerated.     Like  wild-fire  the  news  con- 
cerning the  Sabbatians  spread.     It  can  be  imagined 
what  this   defiance  of  Rabbinical  Judaism  meant  in 
those  days,  especially  in  Poland,  where  the  most 
insignificant  religious  rites  were  sedulously  observed. 
It  was    now   discovered  that,  in  the  midst  of  the 
excessive    piety   which  characterized   the   Poles,    a 
number  of  persons,  brought  up  in  the  knowledge  of 
the  Talmud,  scoffed  at  the  whole  system  of  Rabbin- 
ical   Judaism.       The    rabbis    and    elders    forthwith 
began  to  employ  the  usual  weapons  of  excommuni- 
cation and  persecution  against  the  offenders,  and 
the   secret  heretics  were  hunted  out.     Won   over 
by  large  sums,  the  Polish  authorities   energetically 
supported  the  persecutors.  Those  in  distress  showed 
signs  of  repentance,  and  made  public  confession  of 
their  misdeeds,  which,  be  they  accurate  or  exagger- 
ated, present  a  sad  picture  of  the  deterioration  of 
the  Polish  Jews.      Before  the  council  of  rabbis  in 
Satanov,  in  open  court,  several  men  and  women 
stated  that  they  and  their  friends  had  not  only  treated 
the  rites  of  Judaism  with  contempt,  but  had  aban- 
doned  themselves  to  fornication,   adultery,   incest, 
and  other  iniquities,  and  had  done  so  in  accordance 
with  Kabbalistic-mystic  teachings.     The  penitents 
declared  that   Frank  had  taught  his  followers   to 
scoff  at  chastity. 

In  consequence  of  this  evidence  a  solemn  sentence 
of  excommunication,  during  the  reading  of  which 
tapers  were  extinguished,  was  pronounced  in  Brody 
against  the  Frankists:  no  one  might  intermarry 
with  them,  their  sons  and  daughters  were  to  be 


treated  as  bastards,  and  none  who  were  even 
suspected  could  be  admitted  to  the  post  of  rabbi,  to 
any  religious  office,  or  to  the  profession  of  teacher. 
Every  one  was  in  duty  bound  to  denounce  and 
unmask  the  secret  Sabbatians.  This  excom- 
munication was  repeated  in  several  communities, 
and  finally  ratified  by  a  great  synod  in  Konstan- 
tinov  on  the  Jewish  New  Year  (September,  1756). 
The  document  was  printed,  distributed,  and 
ordered  to  be  read  aloud  every  month  in  the  syna- 
gogues for  observance.  This  sentence  of  excom- 
munication contained  one  point  of  great  importance. 
No  one  under  thirty  years  of  age  was  to  be  permitted 
to  study  the  Kabbala.  Necessity  at  length  opened 
the  eyes  of  the  rabbis  to  the  recognition  of  the 
impure  spring,  which  since  the  time  of  Lurya  had 
poisoned  the  sap  of  the  tree  of  Judaism.  More 
than  four  centuries  had  passed  since  philosophical 
inquiry  had  been  forbidden,  and  the  young  Kabbala 
encouraged.  In  their  blindness,  the  rabbis  had 
imagined  that  they  were  strengthening  Judaism  in 
placing  folly  on  the  throne  of  wisdom.  This  course 
produced  that  book  of  lies,  the  Zohar,  which  impu- 
dently set  itself  above  the  Holy  Writings  and  the 
Talmud.  Finally,  the  delusions  of  the  Kabbala 
declared  a  life  and  death  war  against  rabbinical 
Judaism.  Such  were  the  fruits  of  blindness.  The 
members  of  the  synod  of  Konstantinov  turned  in 
their  perplexity  to  Jacob  Emden,  who,  since  his 
controversy  with  Eibeschiitz,  was  accounted  the 
representative  of  sound  orthodoxy.  He,  too,  enjoyed 
a  triumph,  though  of  an  altogether  different  kind 
from  the  one  his  antagonist  was  at  the  same  time  cel- 
ebrating in  the  midst  of  his  noisy  admirers.  The  Polish 
Jews  at  last  began  to  be  aware  that  secular  knowledge 
and  cultivated  eloquence  are  after  all  not  altogether 
objectionable,  since  they  can  render  assistance  to 
Judaism.  They  were  desirous  that  a  cultured  Por- 
tuguese should  come  to  Poland,  endowed  with 



knowledge  and  readiness  of  speech,  who  would 
represent  them  before  the  Polish  magistracy  and 
clergy,  in  order  to  suppress  the  dangerous  Frankist 


"Jacob  Emden,  deeply  affected  by  the  despairing 
appeal  of  his  Polish  brethren,  came  to  a  conclusion 
of  great  importance  for  succeeding  ages.  Sabba- 
tians  of  all  shades  appealed  to  the  Zohar  as  a  sacred 
authority,  as  the  Bible  of  a  new  revelation,  excusing 
all  their  blasphemies  and  indecencies  by  quotations 
from  it.  What  if  the  Zohar  should  prove  not  to  be 
genuine,  but  only  a  supposititious  work?  And 
this  was  the  conclusion  to  which  Emden  came. 
The  repulsive  incidents  in  Poland  first  suggested 
the  inquiry  to  him,  and  it  became  clear  to  him  that 
at  least  a  portion  of  the  Zohar  was  the  production 
of  an  impostor. 

To  the  question  whether  it  would  be  lawful  to 
persecute  the  Frankists,  Jacob  Emden  answered 
emphatically  in  the  affirmative.  He  held  them, 
according  to  the  accounts  received  from  Poland, 
to  be  shameless  transgressors  of  the  most  sacred 
laws  of  decency  and  chastity,  turning  vice  into 
virtue  by  means  of  mystical  jugglery.  No  per- 
suasion, however,  was  required  from  him ;  when 
persecution  became  necessary  in  Poland  the  will  to 
inflict  it  was  never  wanting.  The  Frankists  were 
denounced  to  the  magistracy  and  clergy  as  a  new 
sect,  and  handed  over  to  the  Catholic  Inquisition, 
and  the  bishop  of  Kamieniec,  Nicolas  Dembowski, 
in  whose  diocese  they  were  apprehended,  had  no 
objection  to  erect  a  stake.  Frank  was  cunning 
enough  to  avert  from  his  followers  the  blow  aimed 
at  them  and  to  direct  it  against  their  enemies. 
From  Chocim,  where  after  a  brief  imprisonment  he 
had  settled  in  safety,  he  counseled  them  to  emphasize 
two  points  in  their  defense :  that  they  believed  in  a 
Trinity,  and  that  they  rejected  the  Talmud  as  a 
compilation  full  of  error  and  blasphemy.  His  coun- 


sel  meeting  with  opposition,  he  secretly  assembled 
some  of  his  followers  in  a  small  town  in  Poland,  and 
reiterated  his  advice,  with  the  addition  that  twenty 
or  thirty  of  them  must  quickly  be  baptized  to  give 
more  emphasis  to  their  assertions  that  they  acknowl- 
edged the  Trinity  and  rejected  the  Talmud.  To 
Frank  change  of  religion  was  a  small  matter.  The 
Talmud  Jews  of  the  district  heard  of  Frank's  secret 
conference  with  his  confederates,  collected  a  band, 
attacked  them,  and  after  using  them  roughly  pliced 
them  in  confinement.  This  proceeding  provoked 
the  anti-Talmudists  to  revenge.  They  would  not, 
indeed,  be  baptized,  but  they  declared  before  the 
tribunal  of  Bishop  Dembowski  that  they  were 
almost  Christians,  that  they  believed  in  a  Divine 
Trinity,  that  the  rest  of  the  Jews,  who  repudiated 
this  doctrine,  did  not  hold  the  true  faith,  and  perse- 
cuted them  on  account  of  their  superiority.  To 
make  their  breach  with  Judaism  unmistakable,  or  to 
revenge  themselves  in  a  very  sanguinary  way,  they 
made  false  accusations,  namely,  that  believers  in  the 
Talmud  make  use  of  the  blood  of  Christians,  and 
that  the  Talmud  inculcates  the  murder  of  Christians 
as  a  sacred  duty.  There  was  no  difficulty  in  trump- 
ing up  evidence  in  favor  of  the  accusation.  It  was 
only  necessary  that  some  Christian  child  should  be 
missing.  Something  of  the  kind  must  have  occurred 
in  Jampol  in  Podolia  (April,  1756),  and  immediately 
the  most  respected  Jews  of  the  town  were  placed 
in  chains,  and  the  other  communities  menaced. 
Bishop  Dembowski  and  his  chapter,  rejoiced  at 
their  good  luck,  favored  the  Frankists  in  every  way 
in  return  for  their  false  evidence,  freed  them  from 
prison,  protected  them  from  persecution,  allowed 
them  to  settle  in  the  diocese  of  Kamieniec,  permitted 
them  to  live  as  they  pleased,  and  were  delighted  to 
foster  their  hatred  of  the  Talmud  Jews.  The  bishop 
flattered  himself  that,  through  the  Frankists,  among 
whom  were  several  rabbis,  he  would  be  able  to  con- 

28o  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

vert  many  Polish  Jews  to  Catholicism.  The  new 
sect  passed  into  the  state  in  which  the  persecuted 
becomes  the  persecutor. 

In  order  to  drive  their  adversaries  to  desperation^ 
the  Frankists  (1757)  petitioned  Bishop  Dembowski 
to  arrange  a  disputation  between  themselves  and 
the  Talmudists,  and  bound  themselves  to  prove  both 
the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  and  the  harmful  nature 
of  the  Talmud,  from  the  Scriptures  and  the  Zohar. 
To  this  the  bishop  willingly  consented.     One  of  the 
Frankist    rabbis — perhaps    old    Elisha    Schor,  ^  of 
Rohatyn — composed  a  confession  of  faith,  which, 
almost  unequaled  for  audacity  and  untruthfulness, 
is  so  artful  in  its  explanation  of  Sabbatian-Kabbal- 
istic  doctrines  as  to  have  led  the  bishop  to  suppose 
that  they  were  in  consonance  with  the  Catholic  faith, 
and  to  drive  their  adversaries  into  a  corner.     The 
Frankist  confession  of  faith  contains  nine  articles. 
The  religion  revealed  by  God  to  man  contains  so 
many  deep  mysteries,  that  it  must  be   thoroughly 
searched  out  and  examined  ;  without  higher  inspira- 
tion, however,  it   cannot  be  understood.     One  of 
these  mysteries   is  that  the   Godhead   consists   of 
three    Persons,  equal    to   one    another,  at  once   a 
Trinity  and  a  Unity.     Another  mystery  is  that  the 
Godhead  assumes  human   form  to   manifest  itself 
visibly  to  all  men.     Through  the  mediation  of  these 
deities  incarnate,  mankind  is  redeemed  and  saved— 
not  through  the  Messiah  expected  to  assemble  the 
Jews  and  lead  them  back  to  Jerusalem.     The  latter 
is  a  false  belief:    Jerusalem  and  the  Temple  will 
never  be  rebuilt.     The  Talmud,  indeed,  interprets 
revealed  faith  otherwise  ;   but  its  interpretation  is 
baneful,  and  has  led  its  adherents  into  error  and 
unbelief.     The    Talmud    contains    most    revolting 
statements  ;  such  as  that  Jews  are  permitted,  indeed, 
obliged,  to  deceive  and  slay  Christians.    The  Zohar, 
which  is  diametrically  opposed  to  the  Talmud,  offers 
the  only  true  and  correct  interpretation  of  the  Holy 


Writings.  All  these  absurd  statements,  the  Frank- 
ist  confession  of  faith  supported  by  passages  from 
the  Bible  and  the  Zohar ;  and  to  vilify  the  Talmud, 
passages  in  it  were  intentionally  misrepresented. 
The  creed  was  printed  and  published  in  the  Hebrew 
and  the  Polish  language.  The  representatives  of 
the  Polish  community — the  Synod  of  the  Four 
Countries — were  painfully  sensible,  in  their  desperate 
situation,  of  the  want  of  education  prevalent  among 
them.  They  could  not  produce  a  single  man  who 
could  expose  the  imposture  of  the  Frankists  and 
the  hollowness  of  their  creed  in  well-turned  or  even 
tolerable  language.  The  proud  leaders  of  the 
Synod  behaved  like  children  in  their  anxiety.  They 
helplessly  devised  extravagant  schemes,  wished  to 
appeal  to  the  pope,  and  to  incite  the  Portuguese  in 
Amsterdam  and  Rome  to  protect  them  from  the 
machinations  of  their  vindictive  enemies. 

Bishop  Dembowski  consented  to  the  proposition 
of  the  Frankists,  and  issued  a  command  that  the 
Talmudists  send  deputies  to  a  disputation  at 
Kamieniec,  failing  which  he  would  punish  them  and 
burn  the  Talmud  as  a  book  hostile  to  Christianity. 
In  vain  the  Polish  Jews  referred  to  their  ancient 
privileges,  screened  themselves  behind  great  nobles, 
and  spent  large  sums  of  money.  They  were  obliged 
to  prepare  for  the  disputation  and  render  account 
to  the  enemies  they  had  so  greatly  despised.  Only 
a  few  rabbis  appeared.  What  could  the  representa- 
tives of  the  Talmud,  with  their  profound  ignorance 
and  halting  speech,  effect  against  the  audacious  de- 
nunciations of  the  Frankists,  particularly  as  they  also 
acknowledged  the  Zohar  as  a  sacred  book,  and  this, 
as  a  matter  of  fact,  formulates  the  doctrine  of  a  kind 
of  Trinity  !  What  happened  at  the  disputation  of 
Kamieniec  has  never  transpired.  The  Talmudists 
were  accounted  as  vanquished  and  refuted.  Bishop 
Dembowski  publicly  declared  (October  14,  i/5/). 
that,  as  the  anti-Talmudists  had  set  down  in  writing 

282  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

and  proved  the  chief  points  of  their  confession  of 
faith,  they  were  permitted  everywhere  to  hold  dis- 
putations with  the  Talmudists.  Copies  of  the  Tal- 
mud were  ordered  to  be  confiscated,  brought  to 
Kamieniec,  and  there  publicly  burned  by  the  hang- 
man. Dembowski  was  permitted  arbitrarily  to  favor 
the  one  party  and  condemn  the  other.  The  king 
of  Poland  and  his  minister,  Count  Briihl,  troubled 
themselves  but  little  about  internal  affairs,  still  less 
about  the  Jews.  Hence  Dembowski,  who  at  about 
that  time  was  made  archbishop  of  Lernberg,  was 
allowed  with  the  aid  of  the  clergy,  the  police,  and 
the  Frankists,  to  search  for  copies  of  the  Talmud 
and  other  rabbinical  writings  in  the  towns  of  his 
bishopric,  collect  them  at  Kamieniec,  and  drag  them 
through  the  streets  in  mockery.  Only  the  Bible 
and  the  Zohar  were  to  be  spared,  as  in  the  time  of 
the  Talmud  persecution  under  Popes  Julius  IV  and 
Pius  V.  Nearly  a  thousand  copies  of  the  Talmud 
were  thrown  into  a  great  pit  at  Kamieniec  and  burnt 
by  the  hangman.  The  Talmudists  could  do  nothing, 
but  groan,  weep,  and  proclaim  a  rigorous  fast-day 
on  account  of  "  the  burning  of  the  Torah."  It  was 
the  Kabbala  that  had  kindled  the  torches  for  the 
funeral  pile  of  the  Talmud.  The  clergy,  in  con- 
junction with  the  anti-Talmudists,  daily  made  domi- 
ciliary visits  into  Jewish  houses  to  confiscate  copies 
of  the  Talmud. 

To  free  themselves  and  all  other  Jews  from  the 
oft  repeated,  and  as  often  refuted,  accusation  of 
child-murder,  which  the  abject  Frankists  had  con- 
firmed, the  Jewish  Talmudists  sent  Eliakim  Selig 
(Selek)  to  Benedictus  XIV,  to  procure  an  official 
exposure  of  the  falsehood  of  the  charge  brought 
against  Jews.  Eliakim's  determination  and  persis- 
tence succeeded  in  obtaining  this  authoritative  ac- 
quittal in  Rome  at  the  end  of  1757. 

Suddenly  Bishop  Dembowski  died  (November  1 7, 
1757)  a  violent  death,  and  this  led  to  a  new  devel- 


opment  in  the  controversy.  Persecution  of  the 
Talmudists  immediately  ceased,  and  from  that  time 
the  Frankists  were  persecuted,  imprisoned,  and  de- 
clared outlaws.  Their  beards  were  shaved  off  as  a 
mark  of  disgrace  and  to  make  them  easily  recog- 
nizable. The  majority,  no  longer  able  to  maintain 
themselves  in  Kamieniec,  fled  to  the  neighboring 
province  of  Bessarabia.  But  they  were  even  more 
disturbed  under  Turkish  jurisdiction.  Their  perse- 
cutors informed  the  Jewish  community  of  the  arrival 
of  the  anti-Talmudists  in  their  district  and  of  their 
injuriousness  to  Judaism,  and  the  former  had  only 
to  notify  the  Pasha  and  the  Cadi  that  these  sup- 
posed Polish  Jews  were  not  under  the  protection  of 
the  Chacham  Bashi  (chief  rabbi)  of  Constantinople 
in  order  to  invite  the  Turks  to  fall  upon  the  new- 
comers and  mercilessly  rob  and  ill-treat  them. 
In  despair  the  Frankists  wandered  restlessly  about 
the  borderlands  of  Podolia  and  Bessarabia.  At 
length  they  addressed  the  king  of  Poland,  and  im- 
plored him  to  confirm  the  privilege  tolerating  their 
worship  granted  them  by  Bishop  Dembowski.  Au- 
gustus III,  the  weakling  and  martyr  of  the  seven 
years'  war,  thereupon  issued  a  decree  (June  11, 
1758)  permitting  the  Frankists  to  return  unmolested 
to  their  homes,  and  reside  in  Poland  wherever  they 
pleased.  The  decree  was  not  enforced  with  suffi- 
cient energy,  and  the  Frankists  continued  to  be 
persecuted  by  their  opponents  aided  by  the  nobles. 
In  their  trouble  some  of  their  body  were  sent  to  beg 
Frank,  who  had  so  long  forsaken  them,  to  assist 
them  with  his  advice.  While  affecting  to  demur,  he 
willingly  obeyed  their  call  and  repaired  again  to 
Podolia  (January,  1759). 

With  his   appearance   the  old  game  of  intrigue 
be^an  once   more.      Frank  was  from  that  time:  the 


life  and  soul  of  his  followers,  and  without  his  com- 
mands they  undertook  nothing.  He  saw  clearly 
that  the  hypocrisy  of  simply  declaring  that  the  anti- 

284  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

Talmudists  believed  in  the  Trinity  must  not  be  re- 
peated, but  that  they  must  make  more  of  a  conces- 
sion to  Christianity.  By  his  advice  six  Frankists, 
the  majority  foreigners,  repaired  to  Wratislav  Lu- 
bienski,  Archbishop  of  Lemberg,  with  the  declara- 
tion (February  20,  1 759),  "in  the  name  of  their  whole 
body,"  that  they  were  all  willing,  under  certain  con- 
ditions, to  be  baptized.  In  their  petition  they  used 
phrases  savoring  of  Catholicism,  and  breathed  ven- 
geance against  their  former  co-religionists.  Lubi- 
enski  had  this  petition  of  the  Zoharites  printed,  in 
order,  on  the  one  hand,  to  proclaim  the  victory  of 
the  Church,  on  the  other,  to  keep  the  members  of 
this  sect  to  their  word;  but  he  did  nothing  for  them. 
Although  in  their  Catholic  and  Kabbalistic  language 
they  declared  that  they  were  languishing  for  bap- 
tism "like  the  hart  for  the  water-brooks,"  they  did 
not  in  the  least  contemplate  an  immediate  formal 
secession  to  Christianity.  Frank,  their  leader,  whom 
they  blindly  followed,  did  not  consider  the  time  ripe 
for  this  extreme  measure.  He  reserved  it  to  ex- 
tort favorable  terms,  which  were  embodied  in  an 
address  presented  to  the  king  and  Archbishop 
Lubienski  (May  16,  1759)  by  two  deputies.  They 
insisted  especially  on  a  disputation  with  their  oppo- 
nents, adducing  as  a  reason,  that  they  wished  to 
show  the  world  that  they  were  led  to  embrace 
Christianity,  not  from  necessity  and  poverty,  but 
through  conviction.  They  wished,  moreover,  to 
give  an  opportunity  to  their  secret  confederates  to 
publicly  avow  themselves  believers  in  Christianity, 
which  they  would  infallibly  do  if  their  righteous 
cause  should  triumph  in  public  argument.  Finally 
they  hoped  in  this  way  to  open  the  blinded  eyes  of 
their  antagonists.  To  this  cunningly  devised  pe- 
tition breathing  malice  against  their  enemies,  the 
king  made  no  reply,  while  Lubienski  answered 
evasively  that  he  could  only  promise  them  eternal 
salvation  if  they  allowed  themselves  to  be  baptized; 


the  rest  would  follow  as  a  matter  of  course.  He 
displayed  no  zeal  whatever  for  the  conversion  of 
these  ragged  fellows  whom  he  believed  to  be  dis- 
semblers. The  papal  nuncio  in  Warsaw,  Nicholas 
Serra,  did  not  regard  with  favor  the  idea  of  the  con- 
version of  the  anti-Talmudists. 

The  position  of  affairs  changed,  however,  when 
Lubienski  withdrew  to  Gnesen,  his  arch-episcopal 
seat,  and  the  administrator  of  the  archbishopric  of 
Lemberg,  the  canon  De  Mikulski,  showed  more  zeal 
for  conversion.  He  immediately  promised  the 
Frankists  to  arrange  a  religious  conference  between 
them  and  the  Talmudists,  if  they  would  exhibit  a 
sincere  desire  for  baptism.  On  this  the  deputies, 
Leb  Krysa  and  Solomon  of  Rohatyn,  in  the  name 
of  the  whole  body,  made  a  Catholic  confession  of 
faith  (May  25),  which  savored  of  Kabbalism:  "  the 
cross  is  the  symbol  of  the  Holy  Trinity  and  the  seal 
of  the  Messiah."  It  closed  with  these  words:  "The 
Talmud  teaches  the  use  of  the  blood  of  Christians, 
and  whosoever  believes  in  it  is  bound  to  use  this 
blood."  Thereupon  Mikulski,  without  consulting 
the  papal  nuncio  Serra,  made  arrangements  for  a 
second  disputation  in  Lemberg  (June,  1759).  The 
rabbis  of  this  diocese  were  summoned  to  appear, 
under  pain  of  a  heavy  fine,  and  the  nobility  and 
clergy  were  requested  in  case  of  necessity  to  com- 
pel them.  The  nuncio  Serra,  to  whom  the  Talmud- 
ists complained,  was  in  the  highest  degree  dis- 
satisfied with  the  idea  of  the  disputation,  but  did 
not  care  to  prevent  it  because  he  wished  to  learn 
with  certainty  whether  the  Jews  used  the  blood  of 
Christians.  This  appeared  to  him  the  most  impor- 
tant point  of  all.  Just  at  this  time  Pope  Clement 
XIII  had  given  a  favorable  answer  on  this  question 
to  the  Jewish  deputy  Selek.  Clement  XIII  pro- 
claimed that  the  Holy  See  had  examined  the; 
grounds  on  which  rested  the  belief  in  the  use  of 
human  blood  for  the  feast  of  the  Passover  and  the 

286  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VII. 

murder  of  Christians  by  Jews,  and  that  the  Jews 
must  not  be  condemned  as  criminals  in  respect  of 
this  charge,  but  that  in  the  case  of  such  occurrences 
leo-al  forms  of  proof  must  be  used.  Notwithstand- 
ing this,  the  papal  envoy  at  this  very  time,  deceived 
by  the  meanness  of  the  Frankists,  partially  credited 
the  false  accusation,  and  notified  the  Curia  of  it. 

The  religious  conference  which  was  to  lead  to  the 
conversion  of  so  many  Jews,  at  first  regarded  with 
indifference,  began  to  awaken  interest.  The  Polish 
nobility  of  both  sexes  purchased  admission  cards  at 
a  high  price,  the  proceeds  to  go  to  the  poor  people 
who  were  to  be  baptized.  On  the  appointed  day 
the  Talmudists  and  Zoharites  were  brought  into  the 
cathedral  of  Lemberg ;  all  the  clergy,  nobility,  and 
burghers  crowded  thither  to  witness  the  spectacle 
of  jews,  apparently  belonging  to  the  same  religion, 
hurling  at  each  other  accusations  of  the  most  abom- 
inable crimes.  In  reality  it  was  the  Talmud  and  the 
Kabbala,  formerly  a  closely  united  pair  of  sisters, 
who  had  fallen  out  with  each  other.  The  disputation 
failed  miserably.  Of  the  Frankists,  who  had  boast- 
fully given  out  that  several  hundreds  of  their  party 
would  attend,  only  about  ten  appeared,  the  rest 
being  too  poor  to  undertake  the  long  journey  and 
attire  themselves  decently.  Of  the  Talmudists 
forty  were  present  owing  to  their  dread  of  the 
threatened  fine.  How  Judaism  had  retrograded  in 
the  century  of  "  enlightenment "  when  compared 
with  the  thirteenth  century  !  At  that  time,  on  a 
similar  occasion,  the  spokesman  of  the  Jews,  Moses 
Nachmani,  proudly  confronted  his  opponents  at  the 
court  of  Barcelona,  and  almost  made  them  quake 
by  his  knowledge  and  firmness.  In  Lemberg  the 
representatives  of  Talmudic  Judaism  stood  awkward 
and  disconcerted,  unable  to  utter  a  word.  They 
did  not  even  understand  the  language  of  the  country 
-their  opponents,  to  be  sure,  were  in  like  case — 
and  interpreters  had  to  be  employed.  But  the 


Catholic  clergy  in  Poland  and  the  learned  classes 
also  betrayed  their  astounding  ignorance.  Not  a 
single  Pole  understood  Hebrew  or  the  language 
of  the  rabbis  sufficiently  to  be  an  impartial  witness 
of  the  dispute,  whilst  in  Germany  and  Holland 
Christians  acquainted  with  Hebrew  could  be  counted 
by  hundreds.  The  Talmudists  had  a  difficult  part 
to  play  in  this  religious  conference.  The  chief  thesis 
of  the  Frankists  was  that  the  Zohar  teaches  the 
doctrine  of  the  Trinity,  and  that  one  Person  of  the 
Godhead  became  incarnate.  Could  they  dare  to 
deny  this  dogma  absolutely  without  wounding  the 
feelings  of  the  Christians,  their  masters  ?  And 
that  leanings  toward  this  doctrine  were  to  be  found 
in  the  Zohar  they  could  not  deny.  Of  course,  they 
might  have  refuted  completely  the  false  charge  of 
using  the  blood  of  Christian  children  and  of  the 
bloodthirsty  nature  of  the  Talmud,  or  might  have 
cited  the  testimony  of  Christians  and  even  the 
decisions  of  popes.  They  were,  however,  ignorant 
of  the  history  of  their  own  suffering,  and  their 
ignorance  avenged  itself  on  them.  It  is  easy  to 
believe  that  the  Talmudic  spokesmen,  after  the 
three  days'  conference,  returned  home  ashamed  and 
confused.  Even  the  imputation  of  shedding  Chris- 
tian blood  continued  to  clinof  to  their  religion. 

fj  c> 

The  Zoharites  who  had  obtained  their  desire  were 
now  strongly  urged  by  the  clergy  to  perform  their 
promise,  and  allow  themselves  to  be  baptized. 
But  they  continued  to  resist  as  if  it  cost  them  a 
great  struggle,  and  only  yielded  at  the  express 
command  of  their  chief,  Frank,  and  in  his  presence. 
The  latter  appeared  with  great  pomp,  in  magnifi- 
cent Turkish  robes,  with  a  team  of  six  horses,  and 
surrounded  by  guards  in  Turkish  dress.  He  \vish<  :<  I 
to  impress  the  Poles.  His  was  the  strong  will  which 
led  the  Frankists,  and  which  they  implicitly  obeyed. 
Some  thousand  Zoharites  were  baptized  on  this 
occasion.  Frank  would  not  be  baptized  in  Lemberg, 

288  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VII. 

but  appeared  suddenly,  with  dazzling  magnificence, 
in  Warsaw  (October,  1759),  aroused  the  curiosity 
of  the  Polish  capital,  and  requested  the  favor  that 
the  king  would  stand  godfather  to  him.     The  news- 
papers of  the  Polish  capital  were  full  of  accounts  of 
the  daily  baptisms    of  so   many  Jews,  and  of  the 
names  of  the  great  nobles  and  ladies  who  were  their 
godparents.     But  the  Church  could  not  rejoice  in 
her  victory.     Frank  was  watched  with  suspicion  by 
the  clergy.     They  did  not  trust  him,  and  suspected 
him  to  be  a  swindler  who,  under  the  mask  of  Chris- 
tianity, as  formerly  under  that  of  Islam,  desired  to 
play  a  part  as  the   leader   of  a   sect.     The   more 
Frank  reiterated  the  demand  that  a  special  tract  of 
country  be  assigned  to  him,  the  more  he  aroused 
the  suspicion  that  he  was  pursuing  selfish  aims  and 
that    baptism  had   been  but  a    means    to    an  end. 
The    Talmud   Jews    neglected    nothing    to    furnish 
proofs  of  his  impostures.     At   length  he    was  un- 
masked and  betrayed  by  some  of  his  Polish  followers, 
who  were  incensed  at  being  neglected  for  the  foreign 
Frankists,  and  showed  that  with  him  belief  in  Chris- 
tianity was  but  a  farce,  and  that  he  had  commanded 
his  followers  to  address  him  as   Messiah  and  God 
Incarnate  and  Holy  Lord.     He  was  arrested  and 
examined  by  the  president  of  the  Polish  Inquisition 
as  an  impostor  and  a  blasphemer.     The  depositions 
of  the  witnesses  clearly  revealed  his  frauds,  and  he 
was  conveyed  to  the  fortress  of  Czenstochow  and 
confined  in  a  convent  (March,  1760).     Only  the  fact 
that  the  king  was  his  godfather  saved  Frank  from 
being  burnt  at  the  stake  as  a  heretic  and  apostate. 
His   chief  followers   were   likewise    arrested    and 
thrown  into  prison.     The  rank  and  file  were  in  part 
condemned   to  work  on  the  fortifications   of  Czen- 
stochow,  and    partly    outlawed.     Many    Frankists 
were  obliged  to  beg  for  alms  at  the  church  doors, 
and^were  treated  with  contempt  by  the  Polish  pop- 
ulation.    They    continued   true,    however,    to  their 


Messiah  or  Holy  Lord.  All  adverse  events  they 
accounted  for  in  the  Kabbalistic  manner:  they  had 
been  divinely  predestined.  The  cloister  of  Czen- 
stochow  they  named  mystically,  "The  gate  of 
Rome."  Outwardly  they  adhered  to  the  Catholic 
religion,  and  joined  in  all  the  sacraments,  but  they 
associated  only  with  each  other,  and  like  their  Turk- 
ish comrades,  the  Donmah,  intermarried  only  with 
each  other.  The  families  descended  from  them  in 
Poland,  Wolowski,  Dembowski,  Dzalski,  are  still  at 
the  present  day  known  as  Frenks  or  Shabs.  Frank 
was  set  at  liberty  by  the  Russians,  after  thirteen 
years'  imprisonment  in  the  fortress,  played  the  part 
of  impostor  for  over  twenty  years  elsewhere,  in 
Vienna,  Briinn,  and  at  last  in  Offenbach  ;  set  up  his 
beautiful  daughter  Eva  as  the  incarnate  Godhead, 
and  deceived  the  world  until  the  end  of  his  life,  and 
even  after  his  death  ;  but  with  this  part  of  his  career 
Jewish  history  has  nothing  to  do. 

For  all  these  calamitous  events,  Jonathan  Eibe- 
schiitz  was  in  some  measure  to  blame.  The  Frank- 
ists  regarded  him,  the  great  Gaon,  as  one  of  them- 
selves, and  he  did  nothing  to  clear  himself  from  the 
stigma  of  this  suspicion.  He  was  implored  to  aid 
the  Polish  Jews,  to  make  his  influence  felt  in  refuting 
the  charge  of  the  use  of  Christian  blood.  He  re- 
mained silent  as  if  he  feared  to  provoke  the  Frank- 
ists  against  himself.  Some  of  his  followers  who  had 
warmly  upheld  him  began  to  distrust  him,  among 
them  Ezekiel  Landau,  at  that  time  chief  rabbi  of 
Prague.  Jacob  Emden  had  won  the  day,  he  could 
flourish  over  him  the  scourge  of  his  scorn  ;  and  he 
pursued  him  even  beyond  the  grave  as  the  most 
abandoned  being  who  had  ever  disgraced  Judaism. 
The  rabbinate  had  placed  itself  in  the  pillory,  and 
undermined  its  own  authority.  But  it  thereby 
loosened  the  soil  from  which  a  better  seed  could 
spring  forth. 

Whilst  Eibeschiitz  and  his  opponents  were  squab- 

2QO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VII. 

bling  over  amulets  and  Sabbatian  heresy,  and  Jacob 
Frank  Lejbowicz  was  carrying-  on  his  Zoharistic 
frauds,  Mendelssohn  and  Lessing  were  cementing 
a  league  of  friendship,  Portugal  was  extinguishing 
its  funeral  fires  for  the  Marranos,  and  in  England 
the  question  of  the  emancipation  of  the  Jews  was 
being  seriously  discussed  in  Parliament. 



Renaissance  of  the  Jewish  Race — Moses  Mendelssohn — His  Youth — 
Improves  Hebrew  Style — Lessing  and  Mendelssohn — Mendels- 
sohn's Writings — The  Bonnet-Lavater  Controversy — Kolbele — 
The  Burial  Question — Reimarus — Anonymous  Publication  of  his 
Work — Lessing's  "Nathan  the  Wise"-— Mendelssohn  in 
"  Nathan  " — Mendelssohn's  Pentateuch — Opposition  to  it — The 
"Berlin  Religion  " —Montesquieu — Voltaire — Portuguese  Mar- 
ranos  in  Bordeaux — Isaac  Pinto — His  Defense  of  Portuguese 
Jews— Dohm  and  Mendelssohn — Joseph  II  of  Austria— Michaelis 
— Mendelssohn's  "Jerusalem" — Wessely:  his  Circular  Letter- 
Mendelssohn's  Death. 

1750 — 1786  C.  E. 

CAN  "a  nation  be  born  at  once" — or  can  a  people 
be  regenerated?  If  the  laboriously  constructed 
organism  of  a  nation  has  lost  vitality,  if  the  bonds 
connecting  the  individual  parts  are  weakened,  and 
internal  dissolution  has  set  in,  even  the  despotic 
will  which  keeps  the  members  in  a  mechanical  union 
being  wanting ;  in  short,  if  death  comes  upon  a 
commonalty  in  its  corporate  state,  and  it  has  been 
entombed,  can  it  be  resuscitated  and  undergo  a  re- 
vival ?  This  doom  has  overtaken  many  nationalities 
of  ancient  and  modern  times.  But  if  in  such  a 
people  a  new  birth  should  take  place,  i.e.,  a  resur- 
rection from  death  and  apparent  decomposition,  and 
if  this  should  occur  in  a  race  long  past  its  youthful 
vigor,  whose  history  has  spread  over  thousands  of 
years, — then  such  a  miracle  deserves  the  most  at- 
tentive consideration  from  every  man  who  does  not 
stolidly  overlook  what  is  marvelous. 

The  Jewish  race  has  displayed  miraculous  phe- 
nomena, not  only  in  ancient  days,  the  age  of  mira- 
cles, but  also  in  this  matter-of-fact  epoch.  A  com- 
munity which  was  an  object  of  mockery  not  merely 


292  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

to  the  malicious  and  ignorant,  but  almost  more  to 
benevolent  and  cultured  men;  despicable  in  its  own 
eyes  ;  admirable  only  by  reason  of  its  domestic  vir- 
tues and  ancient  memories,  both,  however,  disfigured 
beyond  recognition  by  trivial  observances;  scourging 
itself  with  bitter  irony  ;  of  which  a  representative 
member  could  justly  remark,  "My  nation  has  be- 
come so  estranged  from  culture,  that  the  possibility 
of  improvement  is  doubtful"  -this  community 
nevertheless  raised  itself  from  the  dust !  It  revived 
with  marvelous  rapidity  from  its  abjection,  as  if  a 
prophet  had  called  unto  it,  "  Shake  thyself  from  the 

dust ;  arise loose  thyself  from   the  bands 

of  thy  neck,  O  captive  daughter  of  Zion  !  "  And 
who  caused  this  revival?  One  man,  Moses  Men- 
delssohn, who  may  be  considered  the  incarnation 
of  his  race — stunted  in  form,  awkward,  timid,  stut- 
tering, ugly,  and  repulsive  in  appearance.  But 
within  this  race-deformity  breathed  a  thoughtful 
spirit,  which  only  when  misled  pursued  chimeras, 
and  lost  its  self-esteem  only  when  proscribed.  No 
sooner  did  it  understand  that  it  was  the  exponent 
of  the  truth,  than  it  dismissed  its  visionary  fancies, 
its  spirit  transfigured  the  body,  and  raised  the  bent 
form  erect,  the  hateful  characteristics  disappeared, 
and  the  scornful  nickname  of  "Jew"  was  changed 
almost  into  a  title  of  honor. 

This  rejuvenescence  or  renaissance  of  the  Jewish 
race,  which  may  be  unhesitatingly  ascribed  to  Men- 
delssohn,  is  noteworthy,  inasmuch  as  the  originator 
of  this  great  work  neither  intended  nor  suspected 
it ;  in  fact,  as  already  remarked,  he  almost  doubted 
the  capacity  for  rejuvenescence  in  his  brethren.  He 
produced  this  altogether  unpremeditated  glorious 
result  not  by  means  of  his  profession  or  his  public 
position.  He  was  not  a  preacher  in  the  wilderness, 
who  urged  the  lost  sons  of  Israel  to  a  change  of 
mind  ;  all  his  life  he  shrank  from  direct  exercise  of 
influence.  Even  when  sought  after,  he  avoided 

CH.  via.  MENDELSSOHN'S  YOUTH.  293 

leadership  of  every  kind  with  the  oft-repeated  con- 
fession, that  he  was  in  no  way  fitted  for  the  office. 
Mendelssohn  played  an  influential  part  without 
either  knowing  or  desiring  it :  involuntarily,  he 
aroused  the  slumbering  genius  of  the  Jewish  race, 
which  only  required  an  impulse  to  free  itself  from 
its  constrained  position  and  develop.  The  story 
of  his  life  is  interesting,  because  it  typifies  the  history 
of  the  Jews  in  recent  times,  when  they  raised  them- 
selves from  lowliness  and  contempt  to  greatness 
and  self-consciousness. 

Moses  Mendelssohn  (born  at  Dessau,  August, 
1728,  died  in  Berlin,  January  4,  1786)  was  as  insig- 
nificant and  wretched  an  object  as  almost  all  poor 
Jewish  children.  At  this  time  even  infants  seemed 
to  possess  a  servile  appearance.  For  quick-witted 
boys  there  was  no  period  of  youth  ;  they  were  early 
made  to  shiver  and  shake  by  the  icy  breath  of 
rough  life.  They  were  thus  prematurely  awakened 
to  think,  and  hardened  for  their  struggle  with  un- 
lovely reality.  One  day  Mendelssohn,  a  weakly, 
deformed  lad  in  his  fourteenth  year,  knocked  at  the 
door  in  one  of  the  gates  of  Berlin.  A  Jewish 
watchman,  a  sort  of  police  officer,  the  terror  of  im- 
migrant Jews,  who  was  ordered  to  refuse  admission 
to  those  without  means  of  subsistence,  harshly  ad- 
dressed the  pale,  crippled  boy  seeking  admission. 
Fortunately,  he  managed  bashfully  to  stammer  out 
that  he  desired  to  enroll  himself  among  the  Talmud- 
ical  pupils  of  the  new  rabbi  of  Berlin.  This  was  a 
kind  of  recommendation,  and  enabled  him  to  dis- 
pense with  a  full  purse.  Mendelssohn  was  admit- 
ted, and  directed  his  steps  towards  the  house  of  the- 
rabbi,  David  Frankel,  his  countryman  and  teacher, 
who  had  shortly  before  been  called  from  Dessau  to 
the  rabbinate  of  Berlin. 

He  took  an  interest  in  the  shy  youth,  allowed 
him  to  attend  his  rabbinical  lectures,  provided  for 
his  maintenance,  and  employed  him  in  copying  his 

294  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

Commentary  to  the  Jerusalem  Talmud,  because 
Mendelssohn  had  inherited  a  beautiful  handwriting 
as  his  only  legacy  from  his  father,  a  writer  of  scrolls 
of  the  Law.  Even  if  Mendelssohn  learnt  from 
Frankel  nothing  besides  the  Talmud,  yet  the  latter 
exerted  a  favorable  influence  upon  the  mind  of  his 
disciple,  because  his  method,  exercising  itself  upon 
virgin  soil,  the  Jerusalem  Talmud,  was  not  so  dis- 
torted, hair-splitting,  and  perverse  as  that  of  most 
expounders  of  the  Talmud,  who  made  the  crooked 
straight,  and  the  straight  crooked.  Mendelssohn's 
innate  honesty  and  yearning  for  truth  were  not  sup 
pressed  or  hindered  by  his  first  teacher,  and  this 
was  of  value. 

Like  the  majority  of  Talmud  disciples  (Bachurim) 
Mendelssohn  led  the  life  of  poverty  which  the 
Talmud  in  a  measure  makes  a  stipulation  for 
study : — 

"Eat  bread  with  salt,  drink  water  by  measure,  sleep  upon  the  hard 
earth,  live  a  life  of  privations,  and  busy  thyself  with  the  Law." 

His  ideal  at  this  time  was  to  perfect  himself  in  the 
knowledge  of  the  Talmud.  Was  it  chance  that  im- 
planted in  Berlin  the  seed  destined  to  produce 
such  luxuriant  fruit?  Or  would  the  result  have 
been  the  same,  if  he  had  remained  with  Frankel  in 
Dessau,  or  if  the  latter  had  been  called  to  Halber- 
stadt,  or  Fiirth,  or  Metz,  or  Frankfort?  It  is  highly 
improbable.  Retired  though  Mendelssohn's  life  was, 
yet  a  fresh  breeze  was  wafted  from  the  Prussian 
capital  into  the  narrow  chambers  of  his  Rabbinical 
studies.  With  the  accession  of  Frederick  the 
Great,  who  besides  war  cultivated  the  Muses 
(though  in  a  French  garb),  literary  dilettanteism, 
French  customs,  and  contempt  for  religion  began 
to  grow  into  fashion  among  Berlin  Jews.  Although 
their  condition  under  Frederick  was  restricted,  yet, 
because  several  became  wealthy,  the  new  spirit  did 
not  pass  over  them  without  leaving  an  impression, 


however  inadequate  and  superficial.  An  impulse 
towards  culture,  the  spirit  of  innovation,  and  imita- 
tion of  Christian  habits  began  to  manifest  them- 

A  Pole  first  introduced  Mendelssohn  to  the  phil- 
osophical work  of  Maimuni,  which  for  him  and 
through  him  became  a  "Guide  of  the  Perplexed." 
The  spirit  of  the  great  Jewish  thinker,  whose  ashes 
had  lain  in  Palestine  for  more  than  five  hundred 
years,  came  upon  young  Mendelssohn,  inspired  him 
with  fresh  thoughts,  and  made  him,  as  it  were,  his 
Elisha.  What  signified  to  Mendelssohn  the  longr 

o  £> 

interval  of  many  centuries?  He  listened  to  the 
words  of  Maimuni  as  if  sitting  at  his  feet,  and  im- 
bibed  his  wise  instruction  in  deep  draughts.  He 
read  this  book  again  and  again,  until  he  became 
bent  by  constant  perusal  of  its  pages.  From  the 
Pole,  Israel  Zamosc,  he  also  learned  mathematics 
and  logic,  and  from  Aaron  Solomon  Gumpertz  a 
liking  for  good  literature.  Mendelssohn  learned  to 
spell  and  to  philosophize  at  the  same  time,  and  re- 
ceived only  desultory  assistance  in  both.  He  prin- 
cipally taught  and  educated  himself.  He  cultivated 
firmness  of  character,  tamed  his  passions,  and  ac- 
customed himself,  even  before  he  knew  what 
wisdom  was,  to  live  according  to  her  rules.  In  this 
respect  also  Maimuni  was  his  instructor.  By  nature 
Mendelssohn  was  violent  and  hot-tempered ;  but 
he  taught  himself  such  complete  self-mastery  that, 
a  second  Hillel,  he  became  distinguished  for  meek- 
ness  and  gentleness. 

As  if  Mendelssohn  divined  it  to  be  his  mission  to 
purify  the  morals  and  elevate  the  minds  of  his 
brethren,  he,  still  a  youth,  contributed  to  a  Hebrew 
newspaper,  started  by  associates  in  sympathy  with 
him  for  the  purpose  of  ennobling  the  Jews.  The 
firstlings  of  his  intellect  are  like  succulent  grass  in 
the  early  spring.  He  abandoned  the  ossified,  dis- 
torted, over-embellished  Hebrew  style  of  his  con- 

296  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

temporaries,  which  had  debased  the  Hebrew  lan- 
guage into  the  mere  mumbling  of  a  decrepit  tongue. 
Fresh  and  clear  as  a  mountain-stream  the  Hebrew 
outpourings  of  Mendelssohn  welled  forth.  Philos- 
ophical-religious views  pervaded  these  early  works, 
not  only  Where  he  desired  to  depict  trust  in  God 
and  the  inefficacy  of  evil,  but  also  the  rejuvenes- 
cence of  nature  in  her  spring  vesture,  and  the 
delight  of  the  pure  mind  of  man  at  this  beautiful 
change.  The  school  of  suffering  through  which  he 
had  passed  for  so  many  years,  instead  of  dragging 
him  down,  had  awakened,  elevated,  and  ennobled 
his  spirit.  His  struggles  for  a  livelihood  ceased 
when  he  obtained  the  situation  as  tutor  in  a  rich 
family  (that  of  Isaac  Bernard),  which,  though  not 
over-lucrative,  sufficed  for  his  frugal  habits.  His 
journeyman  days  were,  however,  not  yet  at  an  end. 
The  old  and  the  new,  tradition  and  original  views 
agitated  his  mind;  clearness  and  self-consciousness 
were  to  flow  into  it  from  another  source. 

To  the  great  minds  which  Germany  produced  in 
the  eighteenth  century  belongs  Gotthold  Ephraim 
Lessing.  He  was  the  first  free-thinking  man  in 
Germany,  probably  more  so  than  the  royal  hero 
Frederick,  who  had  indeed  liberated  himself  from 
bigotry,  but  still  had  idols  to  whom  he  sacrificed. 
With  his  gigantic  mind,  Lessing  burst  through  all 
bounds  and  regulations  which  depraved  taste,  dry- 
as-dust  science,  haughty  orthodoxy,  and  pedantry 
of  every  kind  had  desired  to  set  up  and  perpetuate. 
The  freedom  that  Lessing  brought  to  the  Germans 
was  more  solid  and  permanent  than  that  which 
Voltaire  aroused  in  depraved  French  society  with 
his  biting  sarcasm  ;  for,  his  purpose  was  to  ennoble, 
and  his  wit  was  only  a  means  to  this  end.  Lessing 
wished  to  exalt  the  theatre  to  a  pulpit,  and  art  to 
a  religion.  Voltaire  degraded  philosophy  into  light 
gossip  for  the  drawing-room. 

It  was  an  important  moment  for  the  history  of 


the  Jews,  when  these  two  young  men,  Mendelssohn 
and  Lessing,  became  acquainted.  It  is  related  that 
a  passionate  lover  of  chess,  named  Isaac  Hess, 
brought  them  together  at  the  chess-board  (1754). 
The  royal  game  united  two  monarchs  in  the  king- 
dom of  thought.  Lessing,  the  son  of  a  pastor,  was 
of  a  democratic  nature :  he  sought  the  society  of 
outcasts,  and  those  despised  by  public  opinion.  As 
shortly  before  he  had  mixed  with  actors  in  Leipsic, 
and  as  afterwards  he  associated  with  soldiers  in 
Breslau,  so  now  he  was  not  ashamed  to  converse  in 
Berlin  with  despised  Jews.  He  had  before  this 
dedicated  the  first-fruits  of  his  art,  which  to  him  ap- 
peared the  highest  art,  to  the  pariah  nation.  By 
his  drama,  "  The  Jews,"  he  desired  to  show  that  a 
Jew  can  be  unselfish  and  noble,  and  he  thereby 
aroused  the  displeasure  of  cultivated  Christian  cir- 
cles. The  ideal  of  a  noble  Jew  which  Lessing  had  in 
mind  while  composing  this  drama,  he  saw  realized 
in  Mendelssohn,  and  it  must  have  pleased  him  to 
find  that  he  was  not  mistaken  in  his  portraiture, 
and  that  reality  did  not  disprove  his  dream. 

As  soon  as  Lessing  and  Mendelssohn  became 
acquainted,  they  learned  to  respect  and  love  each 
other.  The  latter  admired  in  his  Christian  friend 
his  ability  and  unconstraint,  his  courage  and  perfect 
culture,  his  overflowing  spirit,  and  the  vigor  which 
enabled  him  to  bear  a  new  world  upon  his  broad 
shoulders  ;  and  Lessing  admired  in  Mendelssohn 
nobility  of  thought,  a  yearning  for  truth,  and  firm- 
ness of  character  based  upon  a  moral  nature.  They 
were  both  so  imbued  with  lofty  nobility  of  mind 
that  the  one  prized  in  the  other  whatever  perfection 
he  could  not  attain  to  equally  with  his  friend. 
Lessing  suspected  in  his  Jewish  friend  "a  second 
Spinoza,  who  would  do  honor  to  his  nation."  Men- 
delssohn was  completely  enchanted  by  Lessing's 
friendship.  A  friendly  look  from  him,  he  confessed, 
had  such  power  over  his  mind  that  it  banished  all 


grief.  They  exerted  perceptible  influence  upon 
each  other.  Lessing,  at  that  time  a  mere  "  Schon- 
geist,"  as  it  was  termed,  aroused  in  Mendelssohn 
an  interest  for  noble  forms,  aesthetic  culture,  poetry, 
and  art ;  the  latter  in  return  stimulated  Lessing  to 
philosophical  thought.  Thus  they  reciprocally  gave 
and  received,  the  true  relationship  in  a  worthy 
friendship.  The  bond  of  amity  became  so  strong, 
and  united  the  two  friends  so  sincerely,  that  it  lasted 
beyond  the  grave. 

The  stimulus  that  Mendelssohn  received  from  his 
friend  was  extraordinarily  fruitful  both  for  him  and 
for  the  Jews.  It  may  be  said  without  exaggeration 
that  Lessing's  influence  was  greater  in  ennobling 
the  Jewish  race  than  in  elevating  the  German  peo- 
ple, due  to  the  fact  that  the  Jews  were  more  eager 
for  study  and  more  susceptible  to  culture.  All  that 
Mendelssohn  gained  by  intercourse  with  his  friend 
benefited  Judaism.  Through  his  friend,  who  by 
reason  of  a  genial,  sympathetic  nature  exerted 
great  attraction  upon  talented  men,  Mendelssohn 
was  introduced  into  his  circle,  learned  the  forms  ot 
society,  and  threw  off  the  awkwardness  which  was 
the  stamp  of  the  Ghetto.  He  now  devoted  himself 
zealously  to  the  acquisition  of  an  attractive  German 
style — a  difficult  task,  as  the  German  language  was 
strange  to  him,  and  the  German  vocabulary  in  use 
among  Jews  was  antiquated  and  misleading.  Nor 
had  he  any  pattern  to  follow ;  for,  before  Lessing 
enriched  German  style  with  his  genius,  it  was  un- 
wieldy, rugged,  and  ungraceful.  But  Mendelssohn 
overcame  all  difficulties.  He  withdrew,  as  he  ex- 
pressed it,  "  a  portion  of  his  love  from  the  worthy 
matron  (philosophy),  to  bestow  it  upon  a  wanton 
maiden  (the  so-called  belles-lettres .)"  Before  a 
year's  intimacy  with  Lessing  elapsed,  he  was  able 
to  compose  in  excellent  form  his  "  Philosophical 
Conversations"  (the  beginning  of  1755),  in  which 
he,  the  Jew,  blamed  the  Germans,  because,  misap- 


prehending  the  depth  of  their  own  genius,  they 
bore  the  yoke  of  French  taste:  "Will,  then,  the 
Germans  never  recognize  their  own  worth  ?  Will 
they  always  exchange  their  gold  for  the  tinsel  of 
their  neighbors  ? '  This  rebuke  was  applicable 
even  to  the  philosophical  monarch  Frederick  II, 
who  could  not  sufficiently  scorn  native  talent,  nor 
sufficiently  admire  that  of  foreign  lands.  The  Jew 
was  more  German  than  most  of  the  Germans  of 
his  time. 

His  patriotic  feelings  for  Judaism  did  not  suffer 
diminution  thereby  ;  they  were  united  in  his  heart 
with  love  for  German  ideals.  Although  he  could 
never  overcome  his  dislike  to  Spinoza's  revolution- 
ary system,  yet  in  his  first  work  he  strove  to  save 
the  latter's  birthright  in  the  new  metaphysics.  The 
"  Philosophical  Conversations"  Mendelssohn  handed 
to  his  friend,  with  the  jesting  remark  that  he  could 
produce  something  like  Shaftesbury,  the  English- 
man. Without  his  knowledge  Lessing  had  them 
printed,  and  thus  contributed  the  first  leaves  to  his 
friend's  crown  of  laurel.  Through  Lessinofs  zeal  to 

«_>  <j 

advance  him  in  every  way,  Mendelssohn  became 
known  in  the  learned  circle  in  Berlin.  When  a 
"  Coffee-house  of  the  Learned,"  for  an  association 
of  about  one  hundred  men  of  science,  was  established 
in  the  Prussian  capital,  hitherto  deficient  in  literary 
interests,  the  founders  did  not  pass  over  the  young 
Jewish  philosopher,  but  invited  him  to  join  them. 
Every  month  some  member  delivered  a  discourse 
upon  a  scientific  subject.  Mendelssohn,  however, 
was  prevented  from  reading  in  public  by  modesty 
and  an  imperfection  of  speech  ;  he  presented  his 
contribution  in  writing.  His  essay  was  called  an 
"Inquiry  into  Probability,"  which  must  replace  C<T 
tainty  in  the  limited  sphere  of  human  knowledge. 
While  it  was  beingf  read  aloud,  he  was  recognized 


as  the  author,  and  was  applauded   by  the   critical 
audience.     Thus  Mendelssohn  was  made  a  citi/.cn 

30O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

in  the  republic  of  literature,  took  an  active  part  in 
the  literary  productions  of  the  day,  and  contributed 
to  the  "  Library  of  the  Fine  Arts,"  which  had  been 
founded  by  his  friend  Nicolai.  His  taste  became 
more  refined  every  day,  his  style  grew  nobler,  and 
his  thoughts  more  lucid.  His  method  of  presenta- 
tion was  the  more  attractive  because  he  seasoned  it 
with  incisive  wit. 

That  which  the  Jews  had  lost  through  the  abase- 
ment  of  thousand  years  of  slavery,  Mendelssohn 
now  recovered  for  them  in  a  short  space  of  time. 
Almost  all,  with  the  exception  of  a  few  Portuguese 
and    Italian   Jews,  had   lost   pure   speech,  the   first 
medium  of  intellectual  intercourse,  and  a   childish 
jargon   had  been    substituted,  which,   a  true   com- 
panion of  their  misfortunes,  appeared  unwilling  to 
forsake  them.     Mendelssohn  felt  disgust  at  the  utter 
neglect  of  language.     He  saw  that  the  Jewish  cor- 
rupt speech  contributed  not  a  little  to  the  "  immor- 
ality of  the  average  man,"  and  he  hoped  for  good 
results  from  the  attention  beginning  to  be  paid  to 
pure  language.     It  was  one  of  the  consequences  of 
the  debasement  of  language,  that  the  German  and 
Polish  Jews   had  lost  all  sense  of  form,  taste  for 
artistic  beauty,  and  aesthetic   feeling.     Oppression 
from  without  and  their  onerous  duties,  which  had 
reduced  them  to  veritable  slaves,  had  banished  from 
their  midst  these,  together  with  many  other,  enno- 
bling influences.     Mendelssohn  recovered  these  lost 
treasures  for  his  brethren.     He  acquired  so  remark- 
able a  sense  for  the  beautiful,  that  he  was  afterwards 
recognized  by  the  Germans  as  a  judge  in  questions 
of  taste.     The  perverse  course  of  study  pursued  by 
the  Jews  since  the  fourteenth  century  had  blunted 
their   minds    to    simplicity.     They   had   grown    so 
accustomed  to  all  that  was  artificial,  distorted,  super- 
cunningly  wrought,  and  to  subtleties,  that  the  sim- 
ple, unadorned  truth  became  worthless,  if  not  childish 
and  ridiculous,  in  their  eyes.     Their  train  of  thought 


was  mostly  perverted,  uncultivated,  and  defiant  of 
logical  discipline.      He  who  in  a  short  time  was  to 
restore  their  youthful  strength,  so  schooled  himself 
that  twisted  methods  and  thoughts  became  repug- 
nant to  him.     With  his  refined  appreciation  for  the 
simple,  the   beautiful,  and   the  true,  he   acquired   a 
profound  understanding  of  biblical  literature,  whose 
essence  is  simplicity  and  truth.     Through  the  close 
layers  of  musty  rubbish,  with  which  commentaries 
and  super-commentaries  had  encumbered  it,  he  pen- 
etrated  to  the    innermost    core,  and  was    able    to 
cleanse  the  beautiful  picture  from  dust,  and  to  under- 
stand and  render  comprehensible  the  ancient  Rev- 
elation as  if  it  were  a  new  one.     Though  not  gifted 
with  the  ability  of  expressing  his  thoughts  poetically 
or  rythmically,  he  had  a  delicate  perception  of  the 
poetic  beauties  of  every  literature,  especially  of  those 
in  the  holy  language.     And  what  formed  the  crown- 
ing-point of  these  attainments  was,  that  his  moral 
views  were  characterized  by  extreme  delicacy  ;  he 
was  painfully  conscientious  and  truthful,  as  if  there 
flowed  through  his  veins  the  blood  of  a  long  series 
of  noble  ancestors,  who  had  chosen  for  their  life's 
task   all   that   is    honorable    and   worthy.     Almost 
childlike  modesty  adorned  him,  modesty  quite  re- 
mote  however    from    self-despising    subservience. 
He  combined  in  himself  so  many  innate  and  hardly 
acquired  qualities,  that  he  formed  a  striking  contrast 
to  the  caricatures  which  German  and  Polish  Jews 
of  the  time  presented.      There  was  but  one  feeling 
wanting  in    Mendelssohn — and  this   deficiency  was 
detrimental    to    the    near    future    of  Judaism.      He 
lacked  an  appreciation  for  history,  for  things  petty 
on  close  view,  but  great  in  perspective,  for  the  comic 
and   tragic   course  of  the   human   race   during  the 
progress  of  time.      ''What  do  I  know  of  history  !" 
he  observed,  in  half-apologetic,  half-scornful   tones  ; 
"  whatever  is  called  history,  political  history,  history 
of  philosophers,  I  cannot  understand."     He  shared 

302  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

this    deficiency  with   his    prototype    Maimuni,   and 
infected  his  surroundings  with  it. 

Some  of  his  brilliant  qualities  shone  out  from 
Mendelssohn's  eyes  and  features,  and  won  him  more 
hearts  than  if  he  had  striven  to  gain  them.  Curiosity 
about  ''this  Jew"  began  to  be  aroused  even  at  the 
court  of  Frederick  the  Great.  He  was  considered 
the  embodiment  of  wisdom.  The  dauntless  Lessing 
infused  such  courage  into  him,  that  he  ventured  to 
criticise  in  a  periodical  the  poetical  works  of  the  Prus- 
sian sovereign,  and  gently  hint  at  their  faults  (i  760). 
Frederick  the  Great,  who  regarded  verse-making 
as  poetry,  and  dogmatism  as  philosophy,  worshiped 
the  Muse  in  the  court  language  of  the  day,  thor- 
oughly despised  the  German  tongue,  at  this  time 
pregnant  with  real  poetry,  and  mocked  at  intellectual 
treasures  sacred  to  solid  thinkers.  Mendelssohn, 
the  Jew,  felt  hurt  at  the  king's  hatred  of  German,  as 
well  as  by  his  superficial  judgments.  However,  as 
one  dare  not  tell  the  truth  to  monarchs,  he  cleverly, 
through  the  trumpet  of  praise,  emitted  a  soft  note 
of  blame,  clear  enough  to  the  acute  reader. 

Skillfully  as  Mendelssohn  had  concealed  his  cen- 
sure of  the  king,  yet  a  malicious  courtier,  the 
preacher  Justi,  discovered  it,  and  also  the  name  of 
the  fault-finder,  and  denounced  him,  "  a  Jew,  who 
had  thrown  aside  all  reverence  for  the  most  sacred 
person  of  His  Majesty  in  insolent  criticism  of  his 
poetry."  Suddenly,  Mendelssohn  received  a  harsh 
command  to  appear  on  a  Saturday  at  Sans-Souci ; 
an  act  in  accordance  with  the  coarseness  of  the  age. 
Full  of  dread,  Mendelssohn  made  his  way  to  Pots- 
dam to  the  royal  castle,  was  examined,  and  asked 
whether  he  was  the  author  of  the  disrespectful  criti- 
cism. He  admitted  his  offense,  and  excused  him- 
self with  the  observation,  that  "he  who  makes 
verses,  plays  at  nine-pins,  and  he  who  plays  at  nine- 
pins, be  he  monarch  or  peasant,  must  be  satisfied 
with  the  judgment  of  the  boy  who  has  charge  of  the 

CH.   VIII.  HIS    PRIZE-ESSAY.  303 

bowls  as  to  the  merit  of  his  playing."  Frederick 
was  no  doubt  ashamed  to  punish  the  Jewish  reviewer 
for  his  subtle  criticism  in  the  presence  of  the  French 
cynics  of  his  court,  and  thus  Mendelssohn  escaped 

Fortune  was  extraordinarily  favorable  to  this 
man,  unwittingly  the  chief  herald  of  the  future.  It 
gave  him  warm  friends,  who  found  true  delight  in 
exalting  him,  though  a  Jew,  in  public  opinion.  It 
secured  for  him  a  not  brilliant,  yet  fairly  indepen- 
dent situation  as  book-keeper  in  the  house  where 
he  had  hitherto  held  the  toilsome  position  of  resi- 
dent tutor.  It  bestowed  on  him  a  trusty,  tender, 
and  simple  life  companion,  who  surrounded  him 
with  tokens  of  devoted  love.  Fortune  soon  pro- 
cured a  great  triumph  for  him.  The  Berlin  Acad- 
emy had  offered  a  prize  for  an  essay  upon  the 
subject,  "  Are  philosophical  (metaphysical)  truths 
susceptible  of  mathematical  demonstration?" 
Modestly  Mendelssohn  set  to  work  to  solve  this 
problem.  He  did  not  belong  to  the  guild  of  the 
learned,  had  not  learnt  his  alphabet  until  grown  up, 
at  an  age  when  conventionally  educated  youths 
have  their  heads  crammed  with  Latin.  When  he, 
became  aware  that  his  friend,  the  young,  highly- 
promising  scholar  Thomas  Abt,  was  also  a  compet- 
itor, he  almost  lost  courage,  and  desired  to  with- 
draw. Still  his  work  gained  the  prize  (June,  1763), 
not  alone  over  Abt,  but  even  over  Kant,  whose 
essay  received  only  honorable  mention.  Mendels- 
sohn obtained  the  prize  of  fifty  ducats  and  the 
medal.  The  Jew,  the  tradesman,  had  defeated  his 
rivals  of  the  learned  guild.  Kant's  disquisition 
went  deeper  into  the  question,  but  that  of  Mendels- 
sohn had  the  advantage  of  clearness  and  compre- 
hensibility.  "  He  had  torn  the  thorns  from  the 
roses  of  philosophy."  Compelled  to  acquire  each 
item  of  his  knowledge  by  great  labor,  and  having 
only  with  difficulty  become  conversant  with  the 

304  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

barbarous  dialect  of  the  schools,  he  did  not  content 
himself  with  dry  formulae,  but  exerted  himself  to 
render  intelligible,  both  for  himself  and  others, 
metaphysical  conceptions  and  truths.  This  circum- 
stance gained  him  the  victory  over  his  much  pro- 
founder  opponent.  His  essay,  which  together  with 
that  of  Kant  was  translated  into  French  and  Latin 
at  the  expense  of  the  Academy,  earned  for  him  as- 
sured renown  in  the  learned  world,  which  was 
enhanced  by  the  fact  that  the  prize-winner  was  a 

In  the  same  year  (October,  1763),  he  received  a 
distinction  from  King  Frederick,  characteristic  of 
the  low  condition  of  the  Jews  in  Prussia.  This 
honor  was  the  privilege  of  being  a  protected  Jew 
(Schutz-Jude),  i.  e.,  the  assurance  that  he  would  not 
some  fine  day  be  expelled  from  Berlin.  Hitherto, 
he  had  been  tolerated  in  Berlin  only  as  a  retainer 
of  his  employer.  The  philosophical  King  Freder- 
ick sympathized  with  the  antipathy  of  his  illustrious 
enemy  Maria  Theresa  to  the  Jews,  and  issued  anti- 
Jewish  laws  worthy  of  the  Middle  Ages  rather  than 
of  the  eighteenth  century,  so  boastful  of  its  human- 
ity. He  wished  to  see  the  Jews  of  his  dominions 
diminished  in  number,  rather  than  increased. 
Frederick's  "general  privilege"  for  the  Jews  was 
an  insult  to  the  age.  Marquis  d'Argent,  one  of 
Frederick's  French  courtiers,  who  in  his  naivete 
could  not  conceive  that  a  wise  and  learned  man  like 
Mendelssohn  might  any  day  become  liable  to  be 
driven  out  of  Berlin  by  the  brutal  police,  urged 
Mendelssohn  to  sue  for  the  privilege  of  protection, 
and  the  king  to  grant  it.  However,  a  long  time 
elapsed  before  the  dry  official  document  granting  it 
reached  him.  At  last  Mendelssohn  became  a 
Prussian  "  Schutz-Jude." 

The  philosophical  "  Schutz-Jude "  of  Berlin  now 
won  great  success  with  a  work,  which  met  with  al- 
most rapturous  admiration  from  his  contemporaries 


in  all  classes  of  society.  Two  decades  later  this 
production  was  already  obsolete,  and  at  the  present 
day  has  only  literary  value.  Nevertheless,  when  it 
appeared,  it  justly  attained  great  importance. 
Mendelssohn  had  hit  upon  the  exact  moment  to 
bring  it  forward,  and  he  became  one  of  the  cele- 
brities of  the  eighteenth  century.  For  almost  six- 
teen centuries  Christianity  had  educated  the  nations 
of  Europe,  governed  them,  and  almost  surfeited 
them  with  belief  in  the  supernatural.  It  had  em- 
ployed all  available  means  to  effect  its  ends,  and 
finally,  when  the  thinkers  awakened  from  their 
slumber  induced  by  its  lullabies,  to  inquire  into  the 
certainty  secured  by  this  announcement  of  salva- 
tion which  promised  so  much,  serious  people  said 
with  regret — whilst  sceptics  chuckled  with  brutal 
delight — that  it  offered  delusive  fancies  in  the  place 
of  truth. 

In  serious  compositions,  or  in  satires,  the  French 
thinkers  of  the  eighteenth  century — the  whole  body 
of  Materialists — had  revealed  the  hollowness  of  the 
doctrine,  in  which  the  so-called  civilized  peoples 
had  found  comfort  and  tranquillity  for  many  cen- 
turies. The  world  was  deprived  of  a  God,  the 
heavens  were  enshrouded  in  mist ;  all  that  had 
hitherto  seemed  firm  and  incapable  of  being  dis- 
placed was  turned  topsy-turvy.  The  doctrine  of 
Jesus  had  lost  its  power  of  attraction,  and  become 
degraded  in  the  eyes  of  the  earnest  and  thoughtful 
to  the  level  of  childish  fables.  Infidelity  had  be- 
come a  fashion.  With  the  undeifying  of  Jesus 
appeared  to  go  hand-in-hand  the  dethronement  of 
God,  and  doubt  of  the  important  dogma  of  the  im- 
mortality of  the  soul,  which  Christian  theology  had 
borrowed  from  Greek  philosophy  and,  as  always, 
adorning  itself  with  strange  feathers,  had  claimed 
as  its  original  creation.  Thereupon  depended  not 
merely  the  confidence  of  mankind  in  a  future;  exist- 
ence, but  also  the  practical  morals  of  the  present. 

306  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

If  the  soul  is  mortal  and  transient,  they  thought  in 
the  eighteenth  century,  then  the  acts  of  man  are  of 
no  consequence !  Whether  he  be  good  or  evil, 
virtuous  or  criminal,  on  the  other  side  of  the  grave 
there  was  no  retribution.  Thus,  after  the  long 
dream  of  many  centuries,  the  civilized  portion  of 
mankind  again  fell  into  the  despondency  prevalent 
in  the  Roman  society  of  the  empire  ;  they  were 
without  God,  without  support,  without  moral  free- 
dom, without  stimulus  to  a  virtuous  life.  Man  had 
been  degraded  to  a  complicated  machine. 

Mendelssohn  was  also  biased  by  the  prejudice 
that  the  dignity  of  man  stands  and  falls  with  the 
question  of  the  immortality  of  the  soul.  He  there- 
fore undertook  to  restore  this  belief  to  the  cultured 
world,  to  discover  again  the  lost  truth,  to  establish 
it  so  firmly  and  ward  off  materialistic  attacks  upon 
it  so  decisively,  that  the  dying  man  should  calmly 
look  forward  to  a  blissful  future  and  to  felicity  in 
the  after-life.  He  composed  a  dialogue  called 
"  Phaedon,  or  the  Immortality  of  the  Soul."  It  was 
to  be  a  popular  book,  a  new  doctrine  of  salvation 
for  the  unbelieving  or  sceptical  world.  Therefore 
he  gave  to  his  dialogue  an  easily  comprehensible, 
attractive  style,  after  the  pattern  of  Plato's  dialogue 
of  the  same  name,  from  which  he  copied  also  the 
external  form.  But  Plato  supplied  him  with  the 
mere  form.  Mendelssohn  caused  his  Socrates  to 
give  utterance  to  the  philosophy  of  the  eighteenth 
century  through  the  mouth  of  his  pupil,  Phaedon. 

His  starting-point,  in  proving  the  doctrine  of  the 
immortality  of  the  soul,  is  the  fact  of  the  existence 
of  God,  of  which  he  has  the  highest  possible  cer- 
tainty. The  soul  is  the  work  of  God,  just  as  the 
body  is ;  the  body  does  not  actually  perish  after 
dissolution,  but  is  transformed  into  other  elements ; 
much  less,  then,  can  the  soul,  a  simple  essence,  be 
decomposed,  and  perish.  Further,  God  has  ac- 
quainted the  soul  with  the  idea  of  immortality,  has 

CH.  VIII.  "  PH^DON." 


implanted  it  in  the  soul.  Can  He,  the  Benevolent 
and  True  One,  practice  deception  ? 

"If  our  soul  were  mortal,  then  reason  would  be  a  dream,  which 
Jupiter  has  sent  us  that  we  may  forget  our  misery  ;  and  we  would  be 
created  like  the  beasts,  only  to  seek  food  and  die." 

Every  thought  inborn  in  man  must  for  that  reason 
be  true  and  real. 

In  demonstrating  the  doctrine  of  immortality, 
Mendelssohn  had  another  noble  purpose  in  view. 
He  thought  to  counteract  the  malady  of  talented 
youths  of  the  day,  the  Jerusalem-Werthers,  who, 
without  a  goal  for  their  endeavors,  excluded  from 
political  and  elevating  public  activity,  lost  in  whim- 
sical sentimentality  and  self-created  pain,  sank  to 
thoughts  of  suicide,  which  they  carried  out,  unless 
courage,  too,  was  sicklied  over.  Mendelssohn, 
therefore,  in  his  "  Phsedon  "  sought  to  inculcate  the 
conviction,  that  man,  with  his  immortal  soul,  is  a  pos- 
session of  God,  and  has  no  manner  of  right  to  decide 
arbitrarily  about  himself  and  his  life,  or  about  the 
separation  of  his  soul  from  his  body — feeble  argu- 
mentation, but  sufficient  for  that  weakly,  effeminate 

With  his  "  Phaedon,"  Mendelssohn  attained  more 
than  he  had  intended  and  expected,  viz.,  "conviction 
of  the  heart,  warmth  of  feeling,"  in  favor  of  the  doc- 
trine of  immortality.  "  Phsedon  "  was  the  most  pop- 
ular book  of  its  time,  and  was  perused  with  heart 
and  soul.  In  two  years  it  ran  through  three  editions, 
and  was  immediately  translated  into  all  the  Euro- 
pean languages,  also  into  Hebrew.  Theologians, 
philosophers,  artists,  poets,  such  as  Herder,  Gleim, 
and  Goethe,  then  but  a  youth,  statesmen,  and  princes 
— men  and  women — were  edified  by  it,  reanimated 
their  depressed  religious  courage,  and,  with  an  en- 
thusiasm which  would  to-day  appear  absurd,  thanked 
the  Jewish  sage  who  had  restored  to  them  that 
comfort  which  Christianity  no  longer  afforded.  The 

308  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIIL 

deliverance  by  Mendelssohn,  the  Jew,  was  as  joy- 
fully welcomed  by  the  world  grown  pagan,  as  in 
an  earlier  epoch  that  effected  by  the  Jews,  Jesus  and 
Paul  of  Tarsus,  was  welcomed  by  the  heathens. 
His  contemporaries  were  delighted  both  with  the 
contents  and  the  form,  with  the  glowing,  fresh,  vig- 
orous style,  a  happy,  artistic  imitation  of  Plato's 
dialogues.  From  all  sides  letters  of  congratulation 
poured  in  upon  the  modest  author.  Everyone  of 
the  literary  guild  who  passed  through  Berlin  eagerly 
sought  out  the  Jewish  Plato,  as  one  of  the  greatest 
celebrities  of  the  Prussian  capital,  to  have  a  word 
with  him.  The  Duke  of  Brunswick  seriously  thought 
of  securing  the  services  of  Mendelssohn  for  his 
state.  The  Prince  of  Lippe-Schaumburg  treated 
him  as  a  bosom  friend.  The  Berlin  Academy  of 
Sciences  proposed  him  as  a  member.  But  King 
Frederick  struck  the  name  of  Mendelssohn  off  the 
list,  because,  as  it  was  said,  he  desired  at  the  same 
time  to  have  the  Empress  Catherine  admitted  into 
the  learned  body,  and  she  would  be  insulted  in  hav- 
ing a  Jew  as  a  companion.  Two  Benedictine  friars 
— one  from  the  convent  of  Peter,  near  Erfurt,  the 
other  from  the  convent  of  La  Trappe — addressed 
Mendelssohn,  the  Jew,  as  the  adviser  of  their  con- 
science, for  instruction  in  moral  and  philosophical 
conduct.  The  book  "  Phsedon,"  out  of  date  in  twenty 
years,  as  remarked  above,  raised  its  author  to  the 
height  of  fame.  He  was  fortunate,  because  he  in- 
troduced it  to  the  world  exactly  at  the  right  moment. 
An  incident  vexatious  in  itself  served  to  exalt 
Mendelssohn  to  an  extraordinary  degree  in  the  eyes 
of  his  contemporaries,  and  to  invest  him  with  the 
halo  of  martyrdom.  John  Caspar  Lavater,  an 
evangelical  minister  of  Zurich,  an  enthusiast  who 
afterwards  joined  the  Jesuits,  thought  that  he  had 
found  in  Mendelssohn's  intellectual  countenance  a 
confirmation  of  his  deceptive  art,  the  reading  of  the 
character  and  talents  of  a  man  from  his  features. 

CH.  vm.  LAVATER.  309 

Lavater  asserted  that  in  every  line  of  Mendelssohn's 
face  the  unprejudiced  could  at  once  recognize  the 
soul  of  Socrates.  He  was  completely  enchanted 
with  Mendelssohn's  head,  raved  about  it,  desiring 
to  possess  a  well-executed  model,  in  order  to  bring 
honor  upon  his  art.  Mendelssohn  having  caused  his 
Phaedon  to  speak  in  so  Greek  a  fashion  that  no  one 
could  have  recognized  the  author  as  a  Jew,  Lavater 
arrived  at  the  fantastic  conclusion  that  Mendelssohn 
had  become  entirely  estranged  from  his  religion. 
Lavater  had  learned  that  certain  Berlin  Jews  were 
indifferent  to  Judaism,  and  forthwith  reckoned  Men- 
delssohn amongst  their  number.  There  was  the 
additional  fact  that,  in  a  conversation  reluctantly 
entered  upon  with  Lavater,  Mendelssohn  had  pro- 
nounced calm,  sober  judgment  upon  Christianity, 
and  had  spoken  with  a  certain  respect  of  Jesus, 
though  with  the  reservation,  "  if  Jesus  of  Nazareth 
had  desired  to  be  considered  only  a  virtuous  man." 
This  expression  appeared  to  Lavater  the  dawning 
of  grace  and  belief.  What  if  this  great  man,  this 
incarnation  of  wisdom,  who  had  become  indifferent 
towards  Judaism,  could  be  won  over  to  Christianity! 
This  was  the  train  of  thought  which  arose  in  Lava- 
ter's  mind  after  reading  "  Phaedon."  Ingenuous  or 
cunning,  he  spread  his  net  for  Mendelssohn,  and 
thus  showed  how  ignorant  he  was  of  his  true  char- 
acter. About  this  time,  a  Geneva  professor,  Caspar 
Bonnet,  had  written  in  French  a  weak  apology,  en- 
titled "  Investigation  into  the  Evidences  of  Chris- 
tianity against  Unbelievers."  This  work  Lavater 
translated  into  German,  and  sent  to  Mendelssohn, 
with  an  awkward  dedication,  which  looked  like  a 
snare  (September  4,  1769).  Lavater  solemnly  ad- 
jured him  to  refute  publicly  Bonnet's  proofs  of 
Christianity,  or,  if  he  found  them  correct,  to  do 
"  what  sagacity,  love  of  truth,  and  honesty  would 
naturally  dictate,  what  a  Socrates  would  hav<-  done, 
if  he  had  read  this  treatise,  and  found  it  unanswer- 

3IO  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

able."  If  Lavater  had  been  really  acquainted  with 
the  secrets  of  the  heart,  as  he  prided  himself,  he 
would  have  understood  that,  even  if  Mendelssohn 
had  severed  all  connection  with  Judaism,  Christianity 
was  still  more  repugnant  to  him,  and  that  sagacity, 
that  is  to  say,  regard  to  profit  and  the  advantages 
of  a  pleasant  existence,  was  altogether  lacking  in 
his  character.  Lavater  did  not  desire  to  expose 
him  before  the  public,  but  he  wished  to  create  a  sen- 
sation, without  thinking  what  pain  he  was  causing 
the  shy  scholar  of  Berlin. 

Mendelssohn  later  had  reason  to  thank  Lavater 
for  having  through  thoughtlessness  or  pious  cunning 
drawn  him  out  of  his  diffidence  and  seclusion.  Men- 
delssohn had  indeed  expressed  his  relations  to 
Judaism  and  his  co-religionists  so  vaguely  that  on- 
lookers might  have  been  misled.  In  public  life  he 
was  a  philosopher  and  an  elegant  writer,  who  rep- 
resented the  principles  of  humanity  and  good  taste, 
and  apparently  did  not  trouble  about  his  race.  In 
the  darkness  of  the  Ghetto  he  was  a  strictly  ortho- 
dox Jew,  who,  apparently  unconcerned  about  the 
laws  of  beauty,  joined  in  the  observance  of  every 
pious  custom.  Self-contained  and  steadfast  though 
he  was  in  reality,  he  seemed  to  be  a  twofold  per- 
sonality, revealing  the  one  or  the  other  as  he  was 
in  Christian  or  in  Jewish  society.  He  could  not 
stand  up  in  defense  of  Judaism  without,  on  the  one 
hand,  affronting  Christianity  by  his  philosophical 
convictions,  and,  on  the  other,  showing,  if  ever  so 
lightly,  his  dissatisfaction  with  the  chaotic  traditions 
of  the  synagogue,  and  so  offending  the  sensibility 
of  his  co-religionists  and  quarreling  with  them. 
Neither  of  these  courses,  owing  to  his  peace-loving 
character,  entered  his  mind.  He  would  have  been 
able  to  pass  his  life  in  an  attitude  of  silence,  if  Lav- 
ater's  rude  importunity  had  not  draped  him  out  of 

i  *       r  1  •  •  i  oc> 

this  false   position,  altogether  unworthy  of  a  man 
with  a  mission.     Painful  as  it  was  to  reveal  his  in- 


nermost  thoughts  upon  Judaism  and  Christianity,  he 
could  not  hold  his  peace  at  this  challenge,  without 
being  considered  a  coward  even  by  his  friends. 
These  reflections  weighed  heavily  upon  him,  and 
caused  him  to  take  up  the  glove. 

He  skillfully  carried  on  the  contest  thus  forced 
upon  him,  and  was  ultimately  victorious.  At  the 
end  of  1769,  in  a  public  letter  addressed  to  Christ- 
endom and  Lavater,  its  representative,  Mendels- 
sohn in  the  mildest  form  wrote  most  cutting  truths, 
whose  utterance  in  former  times  would  inevitably 
have  led  to  bloodshed  or  the  stake.  Mendelssohn 
had  examined  his  religion  since  the  days  of  his 
youth,  and  found  it  true.  Philosophy  and  belles- 
lettres  had  with  him  never  been  an  end,  but  the 
means  to  prepare  him  for  testing  Judaism.  He 
could  not  possibly  expect  advantage  from  adher- 
ence to  it ;  and  as  for  pleasure — 

"  O  my  worthy  friend,  the  position  assigned  to  my  co-religionists 
in  civil  life  is  so  far  removed  from  all  free  exercise  of  spiritual  pow- 
ers, that  one's  satisfaction  is  not  increased  by  learning  the  true  rights 
of  man.  He  who  knows  the  state  in  which  we  now  are,  and  has  a 
humane  heart,  will  understand  more  than  I  can  express." 

If  the  examination  of  Judaism  had  not  produced 
results  favorable  to  it,  what  would  have  chained  him 
to  a  religion  so  intensely  and  universally  despised, 
what  could  have  prevented  him  from  leaving  it? 
Fear  of  his  co-religionists,  forsooth  ?  Their  secular 
power  was  too  insignificant  to  do  any  harm. 

"  I  do  not  deny  that  I  have  noticed  in  my  religion  certain  human 
additions  and  abuses,  such  as  every  religion  accepts  in  course  of 
time,  which  unfortunately  dim  its  splendor.  But  of  the  essentials  of 
my  iaith  I  am  so  firmly  and  indisputably  assured,  that  I  call  God  to 
witness  that  I  will  adhere  to  my  fundamental  creed  as  long  as  my 
soul  does  not  assume  another  nature." 

He  was  as  opposed  to  Christianity  as  ever,  for 
the  reason  which  he  had  communicated  to  Lavater 
verbally,  and  which  the  latter  should  not  have  con- 
cealed, namely,  that  its  founder  had  declared  him- 
self to  be  God. 


"Yet  for  my  part,  Judaism  might  have  been  utterly  crushed  in 
every  polemical  text-book,  and  triumphantly  arraigned  in  every 
school  composition,  without  my  ever  entering  into  a  controversy 
about  it.  Without  the  slightest  contradiction  from  me,  any  scholar 
or  any  sciolist  in  subjects  Rabbinic  might  have  constructed  lor  hirnselt 
and  his  readers  the  most  ridiculous  view  of  Judaism  out  of  worthless 
books  which  no  rational  Jew  reads,  or  knows  of.  The  contemptible 
opinion  held  of  Jews  I  would  desire  to  shame  by  virtue,  not  by  con- 
troversy. My  religion,  my  philosophy,  and  my  status  in  civil  hie  are 
the  weightiest  arguments  for  avoiding  all  religious  discussion,  and 
for  treating  in  public  writings  of  truths  equally  important  to  all 

Judaism  was  binding  only  upon  the  congregation 
of  Jacob.  It  desired  proselytes  so  little,  that  the 
rabbis  had  ordained  that  any  person  who  offered  to 
unite  himself  to  this  religion  was  to  be  dissuaded 
from  his  design. 

"  The  religion  of  my  fathers  does  not  care  to  be  spread  abroad ; 
we  are  not  to  send  missions  to  the  two  Indies  or  to  Greenland,  to 
preach  our  belief  to  remote  nations.  I  have  the  good  fortune  to 
possess  as  friends  many  excellent  men  not  of  my  creed.  We  love 
each  other  dearly,  and  never  have  I  said  in  my  heart,  'What  a  pity 
for  that  beautiful  soul!'  It  is  possible  for  me  to  recognize  national 
prejudices  and  erroneous  religious  opinions  among  my  fellow-citi- 
zens, and  nevertheless  feel  constrained  to  remain  silent,  if  these 
errors  do  not  directly  affect  natural  religion  or  natural  law  (morality), 
but  are  only  accidentally  connected  with  the  advancement  of  good. 
It  is  true  that  the  morality  of  our  actions  does  not  deserve  the  name, 

if  based  upon  error But  as  long  as  truth  is  not  recognized, 

as  long  as  it  does  not  become  national,  so  as  to  work  as  powerful  an 
effect  upon  the  great  mass  of  the  people  as  ingrained  prejudice,  the 
latter  must  be  almost  sacred  to  every  friend  of  virtue.  These  are  the 
reasons  that  religion  and  philosophy  give  me  to  shun  religious 

Besides,  being  a  Jew,  he  had  to  be  content  with 
toleration,  because  in  other  countries  even  this  was 
denied  his  race.  "  Is  it  not  forbidden,  according  to 
the  laws  of  your  native  city,"  he  ask  Lavater, 
"for  your  circumcised  friend  even  to  visit  you  in 
Zurich?"  The  French  work  of  Bonnet  he  did  not 
find  so  convincing,  he  said,  as  to  cause  his  convic- 
tions to  waver ;  he  had  read  better  defenses  of 
Christianity  written  by  Englishmen  and  Germans  ; 
also  it  was  not  original,  but  borrowed  from  German 
writings.  The  arguments  were  so  feeble  and  so 


little  tending"  to  prove  Christianity  that  any  relig- 
ion could  be  equally  well  or  badly  defended  by  them. 
If  Lavater  thought  that  a  Socrates  could  have  been 
convinced  of  the  truth  of  Christianity  by  this  treat- 
ise, he  only  showed  what  power  prejudice  exerts 
over  reason. 

If  the  evangelical  consistory,  before  whom  Men- 
delssohn offered  to  lay  his  letter  for  censorship  be- 
fore printing  it,  did  not  regret  granting  him  per- 
mission to  print  whatever  he  pleased,  "  because  they 
knew  his  wisdom  and  modesty  to  be  such  that  he 
would  write  nothing  that  might  give  public  offense," 
still  he  undoubtedly  did  give  offense  to  many  pious 

Mendelssohn's  epistle  to  Lavater  naturally  made 
a  great  sensation.  Since  the  appearance  of  Phse- 
don,  he  belonged  to  the  select  band  of  authors 
whose  works  every  cultivated  person  felt  obliged  to 
read.  Besides  it  happened  that  the  subject  of  the 
controversy  was  attractive  at  the  time.  The  free- 
thinkers— by  no  means  few  at  this  time — were  glad 
that  at  last  some  one,  a  Jew  at  that,  had  ventured 
to  utter  a  candid  word  about  Christianity.  Owing 
to  his  obtrusiveness  and  presumptuous  advocacy  of 
Christianity,  Lavater  had  many  enemies.  These 
read  Mendelssohn's  clever  reply  to  the  zealous  con- 
versionist  with  mischievous  delight.  The  hereditary 
prince  of  Brunswick,  who,  as  said  above,  was 
charmed  with  Mendelssohn,  expressed  (January  2, 
1770)  his  admiration,  that  he  had  spoken  "  with  such 
great  tact  and  so  high  a  degree  of  humanitarianism  ' 
upon  these  nice  questions.  Bonnet  himself,  less 
objectionable  than  his  servile  flatterer,  admitted  the 
justice  of  Mendelssohn's  cause,  and  complained  of 
Lavater's  injudicious  zeal.  A  letter  of  his  dated 
January  12,  1770,  was  almost  a  triumph  for  Men- 
delssohn. He  said  that  his  dissertation,  with  which 
Lavater  had  desired  to  convert  the  Jew,  had  not 
been  addressed  to  the  honorable  "  House  of  Jacob," 

314  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

for  which   his   heart   entertained   the  smcerest  and 
warmest  wishes  ;    much  less  had  it  been  his  inten- 
tion   to  give  the  Jewish    philosopher    a    favorable 
opinion  of  Christianity.     He  was  full  of  admiration 
for  the  wisdom,  the  moderation,  and  the  abilities  of 
the    famous    son  of  Abraham.      He  indeed  desired 
him  to  investigate  Christianity,  as  it  could  only  gain 
by  being  subjected  to  a  close  inquiry  by  the  wise 
son  of  Mendel.      But  he  did  not  wish  to  fall  into 
Lavater's   mistakes,  and  make  it  burdensome  for 
him.     However,  in  spite  of  his  virtuous  indignation, 
Bonnet  perpetrated  a  bit  of  knavery  against  Men- 
delssohn.    Lavater  himself  was  obliged  in  a  letter 
to  publicly  beg   Mendelssohn's   pardon  for  having 
placed   him  in  so  awkward  a  position,  entreating 
him   at  the  same  time  to  attest  that  he  had  not  in- 
tentionally been  guilty  of  any  indiscretion  or  per- 
fidy.     Thus   Mendelssohn  had  an  opportunity  of 
acting  magnanimously  towards  his  opponent.     On 
the  subject  proper  under  dispute,  however,  he  re- 
mained firm  ;    he  did   not   surrender  an  iota  of  his 
Judaism,  not  even  its   Talmudical  and   Rabbinical 
peculiarities,  and  with  every  step  his  courage  grew. 
Mendelssohn  did  not  wish  to  let  pass  this  pro- 
pitious opportunity  of  glorifying  Judaism,  which  was 
so  intensely  contemned,  and  make  it  clear  that  it 
was  in   no  way  opposed  to  reason.     Despite  the 
warnings  of  timid  Jews,  to  allow  the  controversy  to 
lapse,  so  as  not  to  stir  up  persecutions,  he  pointed 
out  with  growing  boldness  the  chasm  which  Chris- 
tianity had  dug  between  itself  and  reason,  whereas 
Judaism  in  its  essence  was  in  accord  with  reason. 
'The   nearer  I  approach  this   so   highly-esteemed 
religion,"  he  wrote  in  his  examination  of  Bonnet's 
'  Palingenesie,"  "the  more  abhorrent  is  it   to   my 
reason."     It   afforded   him    especial    delight   when 
strictly  orthodox  Christians  thought  that  they  were 
abusing  Judaism  by  declaring  it  to  be  equivalent  to 
natural  religion  (Deism). 


"  Blessed  be  God,  who  has  given  unto  us  the  doctrine  of  truth.  We 
have  no  dogmas  contrary  to,  or  beyond  reason.  We  add  nothing, 
except  commandments  and  statutes,  to  natural  religion  ;  but  the  fun- 
damental doctrines  of  our  religion  rest  upon  the  basis  of  understand- 
ing." "  This  is  our  glory  and  our  pride,  and  all  the  writings  of  our 
sages  are  full  of  it." 

Frankly  Mendelssohn  spoke  to  the  hereditary 
prince  of  Brunswick  of  the  untenability  of  Christian, 
and  the  reasonableness  of  Jewish,  dogmas.  He 
thought  that  he  had  not  yet  done  enough  for 

"Would  to  God,  another  similar  opportunity  were  granted  me;  I 
would  do  the  same.  .  „  „  .  When  I  consider  what  we  ought  to  do  for 
the  recognition  of  the  sanctity  of  our  religion." 

Those  who  had  not  wholly  parted  company  with 
reason  declared  Mendelssohn  to  be  in  the  right,  and 
his  defense  to  be  justo  They  beheld  with  astonish- 
ment that  Judaism,  so  greatly  despised,  was  yet 
vastly  superior  to  celebrated,  official,  orthodox 
Christianity.  Through  its  noble  son,  Judaism  cele- 
brated a  triumph.  The  unhappy  ardor  of  Lavater, 
and  the  refined  yet  daring  answer  of  Mendelssohn 
for  a  long  time  formed  the  topic  of  conversation  in 
cultured  circles  in  Germany,  and  even  beyond  its 
borders.  The  journals  commented  upon  it,  and 
noted  every  incident.  Anecdotes  passed  backwards 
and  forwards  between  Zurich  and  Berlin.  It  was 
said  that  Lavater  had  asserted  that  if  he  were 
able  to  continue  for  eleven  days  in  a  state  of  com- 
plete holiness  and  prayer,  he  would  most  positively 
succeed  in  converting  Mendelssohn  to  Christianity. 
When  Mendelssohn  heard  this  saying — whether 
authentic  or  not  it  is  characteristic  of  Lavater — he 
smilingly  said,  "  If  I  am  permitted  to  sit  here  in  my 
armchair  and  smoke  a  pipe  philosophically,  I  have 
no  objections  !"  There  was  more  talk  of  the  contest 
between  Mendelssohn  and  Lavater  than  of  war  and 
peace.  Every  fair  brought  pamphlets  written  in 
German  and  French,  unimportant  productions, 
which  did  not  deserve  to  live  long.  Only  a  few  were 

316  HISTORY  OF  THE  JEWS.  CH.  viii. 

on  Mendelssohn's  side,  the  majority  took  the  part 
of  Christianity  and  its  representatives  against  the 
"  insolence  of  the  Jew,"  who  did  not  consider  it  an 
honor  to  be  offered  admission  into  the  Christian 

The  worst  of  these  was  by  a  petty,  choleric 
author,  named  John  Balthasar  Kolbele,  of  Frank- 
fort-on-the-Main,  who,  from  hatred  of  the  Jews,  or 
from  distemper  of  body  and  soul,  hurled  such  coarse 
insults  against  Mendelssohn,  the  rabbis,  the  Jews, 
and  Judaism,  that  his  very  violence  paralyzed  his 
onslaught.  Kolbele  had  on  a  previous  occasion 
attacked  Mendelssohn,  and  jeered  at  him  by  means 
of  a  lay  figure  in  one  of  his  forgotten  romances.  He 
desired  to  write,  or  said  that  he  had  written,  an 
"  Anti-Phsedon  "  against  Mendelssohn's  "  Phsedon." 
His  whole  gall  was  vented  in  a  letter  to  "  Mr.  Men- 
delssohn upon  the  affair  of  Lavater  and  Kolbele  " 
(March,  1770).  Against  the  assertions  of  Mendels- 
sohn as  to  the  purity  of  Judaism,  he  brought  forward 
the  calumnies  and  perversions  of  his  brother  in  feel- 
ing, Eisenmenger.  Mendelssohn's  pure,  unselfish 
character  was  known  in  almost  all  cultivated  and 
high  circles  of  Europe.  Nevertheless,  Kolbele  cast 
the  suspicion  upon  him  of  adhering  to  Judaism  from 
self-interest,  "  because  a  Jewish  bookkeeper  is  in  a 
better  position  than  a  Christian  professor,  and  the 
former  besides  derives  some  profit  from  attendance 
in  the  antechambers  of  princes."  To  Mendelssohn's 
asseveration  that  he  would  cling  to  Judaism  all  his 
lifetime,  the  malignant  fool  or  libeler  rejoined, 
"  How  little  value  Christians  attach  to  the  oath  of  a 
Jew  ! '  Mendelssohn  disposed  of  him  in  a  few  words 
in  the  postscript  of  a  letter  addressed  to  Lavater. 
Nothing  more  was  required ;  Kolbele  had  con- 
demned himself.  Mendelssohn  profited  by  these 
vilifying  attacks,  inasmuch  as  respectable  authors, 
who  in  their  hearts  were  not  a  little  irritated  by  his 
independent  and  bold  action,  left  him  in  peace, 


rather  than  be  associated  with  Kolbele.  Mendels- 
sohn emerged  victorious  from  this  conflict,  trifling 
only  at  first  sight,  which  had  lasted  for  nearly  two 
years  ;  he  rose  in  public  opinion,  because  he  had 
manfully  vindicated  his  own  religion. 

It  had  brought  upon  him  also  the  reproaches  of 
pious  Jews.  That  which  his  discernment  had  feared 
took  place.  From  love  of  truth  he  had  publicly  de- 
clared, that  he  had  found  in  Judaism  certain  human 
additions  and  abuses,  which  only  served  to  dim  its 
splendor.  This  expression  offended  those  who  rev- 
erenced every  custom,  however  un-Jewish,  as  a 
revelation  from  Sinai,  because  it  was  sanctified  by 
time  and  the  code.  The  entire  Jewish  world,  inclu- 
ding the  Berlin  community,  with  the  exception  of 
the  few  who  belonged  to  Mendelssohn's  circle, 
would  not  admit  that  rust  had  accumulated  upon 
the  noble  metal  of  Judaism.  He  was  therefore 
questioned  on  this  point,  probably  by  Rabbi  Hir- 
schel  Lewin,  and  asked  for  an  exact  explanation  of 
the  phrase.  He  was  very  well  able  to  give  a  reply, 
which  probably  satisfied  the  rabbi,  who  was  no 
zealot.  But  his  orthodoxy  was  still  suspected  by 
the  strictly  pious  people  whom  he  termed  "  the 
Kolbeles  of  our  co-religionists."  He  was  obliged 
to  exculpate  himself  from  the  imputation  of  having 
pronounced  the  decisions  of  Talmudical  sages  "  as 
worthless  trash."  Young  Poles,  adventurous  spirits, 
thirsting  for  knowledge,  "  with  good  minds,  but 
confused  thoughts,"  both  pure  and  impure  elements, 
forced  themselves  upon  Mendelssohn,  and  brought 
him  into  bad  repute.  The  majority  had  broken  not 
alone  with  the  Talmud,  but  also  with  religion  and 
morality ;  they  led  a  dissolute  life,  and  considered 
it  the  mark  of  philosophy  and  enlightenment.  Out 
of  love  to  mankind  and  independent  thought,  Men- 
delssohn entered  into  relations  with  them,  held  dis- 
cussions with  them,  advanced  and  aided  them,  which 
also  cast  a  false  light  upon  his  relations  to  Judaism. 

318  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

The  frivolity  and  excesses  of  these  young  men  were 
imputed  to  him,  and  they  were  regarded  as  his 
proteges  and  disciples. 

He  soon  gave  occasion  for  an  increase  of  this 
suspicion.  The  Duke  of  Mecklenbtirg-Schwerin,  to 
avoid  the  dangers  of  premature  interment,  had  in  a 
mild,  fatherly  way  (April,  1772)  forbidden  the  Jews 
of  his  land  to  bury  the  dead  at  once,  according  to 
Jewish  usage.  Jewish  piety  towards  the  deceased, 
which  forbids  keeping  the  dead  above  the  earth 
long  enough  for  decomposition  to  set  in — a  feeling 
petrified  in  the  ritual  code — was  affronted  by  this 
edict,  as  though  the  duke  had  commanded  disre- 


gard  of  a  religious  practice.  The  representatives 
of  the  congregations  of  Schwerin  supplicated  Jacob 
Emden,  of  Altona,  the  aged  champion  of  orthodoxy, 
to  demonstrate  from  Talmudic  and  Rabbinic  laws, 
that  prolonged  exposure  of  a  corpse  was  an  impor- 
tant infringement  of  Jewish  law.  Emden,  who  knew 
his  inability  to  compose  a  memorial  in  German,  re- 
ferred the  people  of  Schwerin  to  Mendelssohn, 
whose  word  had  great  influence  with  princes. 
They  followed  his  advice.  How  astounded  were 
they  to  learn,  from  a  letter  of  Mendelssohn's  (May, 
1772),  that  he  agreed  with  the  ducal  order,  that  the 
dead  should  not  be  buried  before  the  third  day  ;  be- 
cause, according  to  the  experience  of  competent 
physicians,  cases  of  apparent  death  were  possible  ; 
and  that  it  was  right,  in  fact,  compulsory,  to  rescue 
human  life  in  spite  of  the  most  stringent  ordinances 
of  the  religious  code  !  Mendelssohn  proved  be- 
sides that  in  Talmudical  times  precautions  were 
taken  for  the  prevention  of  hasty  burial  in  doubtful 
cases.  His  opinion  was,  with  the  exception  of  one 
blunder,  faultlessly  elaborated  in  the  Rabbinical 
manner.  Nevertheless,  true  to  his  peaceful,  com- 
plaisant nature,  he  sent  the  formula  of  a  petition  to 
the  duke  to  mitigate  the  decree.  Emden,  however, 
in  his  orthodox  zeal,  stamped  this  disputed  question 


almost  as  an  article  of  faith.  A  custom  so  univer- 
sal among  Jews,  among  Italians  and  Portuguese  as 
well  as  Germans  and  Poles,  could  not  be  lightly  set 
aside.  Not  much  value  was  to  be  attached  to  the 
sayings  of  doctors.  Mendelssohn's  Talmudical 
proofs  were  not  conclusive.  In  a  letter  Emden 
gave  him  clearly  to  understand  that  he  was  reprov- 
ing him  for  his  own  benefit,  to  remove  the  suspicion 
of  lukewarm  belief,  which  he  had  aroused  by  his 
evil  surroundings.  Thus  arose  petty  discord  be- 
tween Mendelssohn  and  the  rigidly  orthodox  party, 
which  afterwards  increased. 

Meanwhile,  his  friend  Lessing,  just  before  his 
death,  had  unintentionally  stirred  up  a  storm  in 
Germany  which  caused  the  Church  to  tremble,  and, 
under  the  spell  of  discontent  and  an  artistic  im- 
pulse, he  had  glorified  Mendelssohn,  together  with 
all  Jews,  in  a  perfect  poetic  creation.  The  first 
cause  of  this  tempest,  which  shook  Christianity  to 
its  core,  was  Mendelssohn's  dispute  with  Lavater. 
Lessing  was  so  indignant  at  the  certainty  of  victory 
assumed  by  the  representative  of  Church  Christ- 
ianity that  he  had  strenuously  encouraged  his  Jewish 
friend  to  engage  in  valorous  conflict. 

"  You  alone  dare  and  are  able  to  write  and  speak  thus  upon  this 
matter,  and  are  therefore  infinitely  more  fortunate  than  all  other  hon- 
est people,  who  cannot  achieve  the  subversion  of  this  detestable 
structure  of  unreason  otherwise  than  under  the  pretense  of  building  a 
new  substructure." 

He  did  not  suspect  that  even  then  he  was  holding 
a  thunderbolt  in  his  hands,  which  he  would  soon  be  in 
a  position  to  hurl  against  the  false  gods  who  thought 
that  they  had  conquered  heaven.  During  his  rest- 
less life,  which  corresponded  to  his  constantly  agi- 
tated spirit,  Lessing  came  to  Hamburg,  where  he 
made  the  acquaintance  of  the  respected  and  in •<• 
thinking  family  of  Reimarus.  Hermann  Samuel 
Reimarus,  a  profound  inquirer,  indignant  at  the 
fossilized  and  insolent  Lutheran  Christianity  of  the 

320  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

Hamburg  pastors,  had  written  a  "  Defense  of  the 
Rational  Worshipers  of  God,"  in  which  he  rejected 
every  revealed  religion,  endeavoring  to  secure  to 
reason  the  rights  denied  it,  and  depreciating  par- 
ticularly the  founder  of  Christianity.  Reimarus, 
however,  had  not  courage  to  utter  boldly  what  he 
recognized  as  true,  and  lay  bare  publicly,  in  accor- 
dance with  his  convictions,  the  weaknesses  of  the 
dominant  religion.  He  left  this  treatise,  which  con- 
tained dangerous  and  inflammatory  material,  to  his 
family  and  to  a  secret  order  of  free-thinkers,  as  a 
legacy.  Eliza  Reimarus,  a  noble  daughter  worthy 
of  her  father,  handed  fragments  of  this  incendiary 
manuscript  to  Lessing,  who  read  them  with  interest, 
and  thought  of  publishing  them.  However,  he  had 
not  sufficient  confidence  in  himself  to  give  a  decis- 
ion upon  points  of  theological  discussion,  and,  there- 
fore, sent  these  fragments  to  his  Jewish  friend,  who 
was  capable  of  judging  them.  Mendelssohn  did 
not,  indeed,  find  this  work  very  convincing,  because 
the  author,  embittered  by  the  credulity  of  the 
Church,  had  fallen  into  the  opposite  error  of  advo- 
cating the  most  spiritless  form  of  infidelity,  and,  ac- 
cording to  the  shortsighted  view  of  that  age,  of 
finding  only  petty  intrigues  in  great  historical  move- 
ments. Despite  Mendelssohn's  judgment,  his  friend 
continued  to  think  that  this  book  would  be  of  ser- 
vice in  humiliating  the  Church.  He  seriously 
thought  of  hurling  the  inflammatory  writings  of 
Reimarus,  under  a  false  name,  at  the  Church.  But 
the  Berlin  censorship  would  not  allow  them  to  be 
printed.  Then  Lessing  formed  another  plan.  His 
position  as  superintendent  of  the  ducal  library  of 
Brunswick  in  Wolfenbiittel  permitted  him  to  pub- 
lish the  manuscript  treasures  of  this  rich  collection. 
In  the  interest  of  truth  he  perpetrated  a  falsehood, 
asserting  that  he  had  discovered  in  this  library  these 
"  Fragments  of  an  Unknown,"  the  work  of  an  author 
of  the  last  generation.  Under  this  mask,  and  pro- 


tected  by  his  immunity  from  censorship  in  publish- 
ing contributions  "  to  history  and  literature  from  the 
treasures  of  the  library  at  Wolfenblittel,"  he  began 
to  issue  them.  He  proceeded  step  by  step  with  the 
publication  of  these  fragments.  The  first  install- 
ments were  couched  in  an  entreating  tone,  asking 
for  support  of  the  religion  of  reason  against  the 
religion  of  the  catechism  and  the  pulpit.  He  then 
ventured  a  step  further — to  prove  the  impossibility 
of  the  miracles  upon  which  the  Church  was  based, 
and  especially  to  make  apparent  the  unhistorical 
character  and  incredibility  of  the  resurrection  of 
Jesus,  one  of  the  main  pillars  of  Christianity,  with 
which  it  stands  and  falls.  Finally,  Lessing  pro- 
duced the  most  important  of  the  fragments  at  the 
beginning  of  1778,  ''Upon  the  Aim  of  Jesus  and 
His  Disciples."  Herein  it  was  explained  that  Jesus 
had  only  desired  to  announce  himself  as  the  Jewish 
Messiah  and  King  of  the  Jews.  To  this  end  he 
had  made  secret  preparations  with  his  disciples, 
formed  conspiracies  to  kindle  a  revolution  in  Jeru- 
salem, and  attacked  the  authorities  in  order  to  cause 
the  downfall  of  the  High  Council  (the  Synhedrion). 
But  when  this  plan  of  subversion  failed,  and  Jesus 
had  to  suffer  death,  his  disciples  invented  another 
system,  and  declared  that  the  kingdom  of  Jesus  was 
not  of  this  world.  They  proclaimed  him  the  spirit- 
ual redeemer  of  mankind,  and  gave  prominence  to 
the  hope  of  his  speedy  reappearance ;  thus  the 
Apostles  had  concealed  and  disfigured  the  original 
system  of  Jesus. 

This  treatment  of  the  early  history  of  Christianity, 
fairly  calculated  to  overthrow  the  whole  edifice  of 
the  Church,  descended  like  a  lightning-flash.  It 
was  sober,  convincing,  scientifically  elaborated,  yet 
comprehensible  by  everyone.  Amazement  and 
stupefaction  were  the  effect,  especially  on  the 
publication  of  the  last  fragment.  Statesmen  and 
citizens  were  as  much  affected  as  theologians. 

^22  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

•Public  opinion  upon  the  matter  was  divided. 
Earnest  youths  about  to  begin  a  theologic  career 
hesitated  ;  they  did  not  care  to  yield  their  life's 
activity  to  what  was  perhaps  only  a  dream,  and 
chose  another  vocation.  Some  affirmed  that  the 
proofs  against  Christianity  were  irrefutable.  The 
anonymity  of  the  writer  heightened  the  excitement. 
Conjectures  were  made  as  to  who  the  author  might 
be  ;  Mendelssohn's  name  was  publicly  mentioned. 
Only  a  few  knew  that  this  blow  had  been  struck  by 
Reimarus,  revered  by  theologians,  too.  The  anger 
of  the  zealots  was  discharged  upon  the  publisher, 
Lessing.  He  was  attacked  by  all  parties,  and  had 
no  companion  in  arms.  His  Jewish  friend  would 
willingly  have  hastened  to  his  assistance,  but  how 
could  he  mix  himself  up  in  these  domestic  squabbles 
of  the  Christians  ?  Among  the  numerous  slanders 
circulated  by  the  orthodox  about  Lessing  it  was 
said  that  the  wealthy  Jewish  community  of  Amster- 
dam had  paid  him  one  thousand  ducats  for  the 
publication  of  the  Wolfenbiittel  fragments.  Accus- 
tomed to  single-handed  combat  against  want  of 
taste  and  reason,  Lessing  was  man  enough  to 
protect  himself.  It  was  a  goodly  sight  to  behold 
this  giant  in  the  fray,  dealing  crushing  strokes 
with  light  banter  and  graceful  skill.  He  defeated 
his  enemies  one  after  the  other,  especially  one  who 
was  the  type  of  blindly  credulous,  arrogant,  and 
malicious  orthodoxy,  the  minister  Goze  in  Hamburg. 
As  his  pigmy  opponents  could  not  overcome  this 
Hercules  by  literary  skill,  they  summoned  to  their 
aid  the  secular  arm.  Lessing's  productions  were 
forbidden  and  confiscated,  he  was  compelled  to 
deliver  up  the  manuscripts  of  the  "  Fragments," 
his  freedom  from  censorship  was  withdrawn,  and 
he  was  expected  not  to  write  any  more  upon  this 
subject  (i  778).  He  struggled  against  these  violent 
proceedings,  but  he  was  vulnerable  in  one  point. 
The  greatest  man  whom  Germany  had  hitherto 

CH.   VIII.  "  NATHAN    THE    WISE." 


produced  was  without  means,  and  his  position  as 
librarian  being  imperiled,  he  was  obliged  to  seek 
for  other  means  of  support.  During  one  of  his 
sleepless  nights  (August  10,  1778),  a  plan  struck 
him  which  would  simultaneously  relieve  him  from 
pecuniary  embarrassments  and  inflict  a  worse  blow 
than  ten  "  Fragments  "  upon  the  Lutheran  theolo- 
gians. They  thundered  against  him  from  their 
church  pulpits  ;  he  would  try  to  answer  them  from 
his  theatre  pulpit.  The  latest,  most  mature,  and 
most  perfect  offspring  of  his  Muse,  "  Nathan  the 
Wise,"  should  be  his  avenger.  Lessing  had  carried 
this  idea  in  his  mind  for  several  years  ;  but  he  could 
not  have  executed  it  at  a  more  favorable  time. 

To  the  annoyance  of  the  pious  Christians  who, 
with  all  their  bigotry,  uncharitableness,  and  desire 
for  persecution,  laid  claim  to  every  virtue  on  account 
of  their  belief  in  Jesus,  and  denounced  the  Jews, 
one  and  all,  as  outcasts,  Lessing  represented  a 
Jew  as  the  immaculate  ideal  of  virtue,  wisdom, 
and  conscientiousness.  This  ideal  he  had  found 
embodied  in  Moses  Mendelssohn.  He  illumined 
him  and  the  greatness  of  his  character  by  the  bright 
light  of  theatrical  effects,  and  impressed  the  stamp 
of  eternity  upon  him  by  his  immortal  verses.  The 
chief  hero  of  Lessing's  drama  is  a  sage  and  a 
merchant,  like  Mendelssohn,  "  as  good  as  he  is 
clever,  and  as  clever  as  he  is  wise."  His  nation 
honors  him  as  a  prince,  and  though  it  calls  him  the 
wise  Nathan,  he  was  above  all  things  good  : 

"  The  law  commandeth  mercy,  not  compliance. 
And  thus  for  mercy's  sake  he's  uncomplying  : 
....  How  free  from  prejudice  his  lofty  soul— 
His  heart  to  every  virtue  how  unlocked— 
With  every  lovely  feeling-  how  familiar  .... 
.  .  .  .  O  what  a  Jew  is  he  !  yet  wishes 
Only  to  pass  as  a  Jew." 

A  son  of  Judaism,  Nathan  had  elevated  himself 
to  the  highest  level  of  humane  feeling  and  charitable- 
ness, for  such  his  Law  prescribed.  In  a  fanatical 

324  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

massacre  by  Crusaders,  ferocious  Christians  had 
slaughtered  all  the  Jews  in  Jerusalem,  with  their 
wives  and  children,  and  his  beloved  wife  and  seven 
hopeful  sons  had  been  burnt.  At  first  he  raged, 
and  murmured  against  fate,  but  anon  he  spake  with 
the  patience  of  Job: 

"  This  also  was  God's  decree  :  So  be  it  !  " 

In  his  terrible  grief  a  mounted  soldier  brought 
him  a  young,  tender  Christian  child,  an  orphan  girl, 
and  Nathan  took  it,  bore  it  to  his  couch,  kissed  it, 
flung  himself  upon  his  knees,  and  thanked  God  that 
the  lost  seven  had  been  replaced  by  at  least  one. 
This  Christian  maiden  he  loved  with  all  the  warmth 
of  a  fatherly  heart,  and  educated  her  in  a  strictly 
conscientious  manner.  Not  one  religion  in  pre- 
ference to  another,  still  less  his  own,  did  he  instil 
into  the  young  soul  of  Recha,  or  Blanche,  but  only 
the  doctrines  of  pure  fear  of  God,  ideal  virtue,  and 
morality.  Such  was  the  representative  of  Judaism. 

How  did  the  representative  of  Christianity 
behave  ?  The  Patriarch  of  Jerusalem,  who,  with 
his  church,  was  tolerated  in  the  Mahometan  city  by 
the  magnanimous  Sultan  Saladin,  by  virtue  of  a 
solemnly  ratified  treaty,  meditates  treacherous  plans 
against  the  sultan,  concocts  intrigues  against  him : 

"But  what  is  villainy  in  human  eyes 
May,  in  the  sight  of  God,  the  patriarch  thinks, 
Not  be  villainy." 

For  Nathan,  he  desires  to  kindle  a  pyre,  because 
he  has  fostered,  loved,  and  raised  to  a  lovely, 
spiritual  maiden,  a  forsaken  Christian  child.  With- 
out the  compassion  of  the  Jew,  the  child  would  have 
perished  : 

"  That's  nothing  !     The  Jew  must  still  be  burnt." 

Daya,  another  representative  of  Church  Chris- 
tianity, who  knows  Recha's  Christian  origin,  has 
misgivings  when  she  sees  the  Christian  child  bask- 


ing  in  the  warm  love  of  a  Jew.  She  is  won  over 
from  these  scruples  by  costly  presents,  but  she  still 
contemplates  depriving  Nathan  of  the  most  precious 
object  to  which  his  soul  clings,  even  though  danger 
should  thereby  befall  him. 

The  Templar,  Leon  of  Filnek,  represents  yet 
another  phase  of  Christianity.  A  soldier  and  at  the 
same  time  a  cleric,  who,  spared  by  Saladin  although 
he  had  broken  his  word,  rescues  Recha,  the  sup- 
posed Jewish  maiden  ;  he  behaves  with  Christian 
insolence  towards  Nathan,  speaking  roughly  and 
harshly  to  him,  whilst  the  latter  is  pouring  forth 
heartfelt  gratitude  for  the  rescue  of  his  adopted 
daughter.  Then,  gradually,  through  the  wonderful 
power  of  love,  the  Templar  lays  aside  the  coarse, 
hateful  garb  of  Christian  prejudice.  In  his  veins 
there  flows  Mahometan  blood.  Only  the  holy  sim- 
plicity of  the  friar  Bonafides  combines  human  kind- 
ness with  monastic  ecclesiasticism  ;  but  he  knows 
only  one  duty — obedience — and  at  the  command  of 
the  fanatically  cruel  Patriarch  would  commit  the 
most  horrible  crimes. 

These  lessons  Lessing  preached  from  his  theatre 
pulpit  to  the  obdurate  minds  of  the  followers  of 
Christ.  The  wise  Jew,  Nathan — Mendelssohn- 
has  arrived  at  the  highest  level  of  human  sympathy  ; 
while  the  best  Christian,  the  Templar,  every  culti- 
vated Christian — the  Nicolais,  the  Abts,  the  Herd- 
ers— have  yet  to  free  themselves  from  their  thick- 
skinned  prejudices,  to  attain  to  that  height.  It  is  a 
delusion  to  claim  the  possession  of  the  one  true  re- 
ligion and  the  only  means  of  salvation.  Who  pos- 
sesses the  real  ring?  How  can  the  real  one  be 
detected  from  the  false  ?  Only  by  meekness,  heart- 
felt tolerance,  true  benevolence,  and  most  fervent 
devotion  to  God  ;  in  short,  by  all  those  qualities 
which  the  official  Christianity  of  the  time  did  not 
display,  and  which  were  perfectly  realized  in  Men- 

326  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

In  every  way  Lessing  scourged  fossilized,  perse- 
cuting Christianity,  and  glorified  Judaism  through 
its  chief  representative.  As  if  this  splendid  drama, 
the  beautiful  first-fruits  of  German  poetry,  was  to 
belong  to  the  Jews,  although  given  to  the  world  by 
a  Christian  poet,  a  son  of  Israel  aided  its  production. 
Lessing,  besieged  by  theological  foes,  and  fighting 
against  dire  necessity,  would  not  have  been  able  to 
complete  it,  if,  during  its  composition,  he  had  not 
been  enabled  to  live  without  anxiety.  He  required 
a  loan,  and  found  no  helper  among  the  Christians. 
Moses  Wessely,  in  Hamburg,  the  brother  of  the 
neo-Hebraic  poet,  Naphtali  Wessely,  who  afterwards 
made  a  name  for  himself  in  Jewish  history,  advanced 
the  desired  sum,  although  he  was  not  a  wealthy  Jew, 
and  only  wished  to  have  the  honor  of  possessing 
something  in  Lessing's  handwriting. 

Lessing  had  not  been  wrong  in  thinking  that  this 
drama  would  vex  pious  Christians  much  more  than 
ten  controversial  pamphlets  against  Goze.  As  soon 
as  it  appeared  (spring,  1779),  intense  wrath  was  felt 
against  the  poet,  as  if  he  had  degraded  Christianity. 
The  "  Fragments  "  and  his  polemics  against  Goze 
had  not  made  him  so  many  enemies  as  "  Nathan." 
Even  his  friends  greeted  him  coldly,  shunned  him, 
excluded  him  from  the  social  reunions  he  loved,  and 
left  him  to  the  persecution  of  his  adversaries. 
Through  this  silent  excommunication  he  felt  himself 
aggrieved,  lost  more  and  more  of  his  bright  humor 
and  elasticity  of  spirit,  and  became  wearied,  down- 
cast, and  almost  stupefied.  The  treatment  of  pious 
Christians  terribly  embittered  the  last  year  of  his 
life.  He  died  in  vigorous  manhood  like  an  aged 
man,  a  martyr  to  his  love  of  truth.  But  his  soul- 
conquering  voice  made  itself  heard  on  behalf  of  tol- 
erance, and  gradually  softened  the  discordant  notes 
of  hatred  and  prejudice.  In  spite  of  the  ban  placed 
upon  "  Nathan,"  as  well  as  upon  its  author,  both  in 
Protestant  and  Catholic  countries,  this  drama  be- 

CH.  VIII.  INFLUENCE    OF     '  NATHAN.  327 

came  one  of  the  most  popular  in  German  poetry, 
and  as  often  as  the  verses  inspired  by  conviction 
resound  from  the  stage,  they  seize  upon  the  hearts 
of  the  audience,  loosening  the  links  of  the  chain  of 
Jew-hatred  in  the   minds  of  Germans,  who  find  it 
most  difficult  to  throw  off  its  shackles.     "  Nathan  " 
made  an  impression  on  the  mind  of  the  German 
people,  which,  despite   unfavorable   circumstances, 
has   not   been   obliterated.     Twenty  years    before, 
when  Lessing  produced   his   first  drama  of  "  The 
Jews,"  an  arrogant  theologian  censured  it,  because 
it  was   altogether   too    improbable   that    among   a 
people  like  the  Jews,  so  noble  a  character  could 
ever  be  formed.     At  the  appearance  of  "  Nathan" 
no  reader   thought  that  a  noble  Jew  was  possible. 
Even  the  most  stubborn  dared  not  assert  so  mon- 
strous an  absurdity.     The  Jewish  ideal  sage  was  a 
reality,  and  lived  in  Berlin,  an  ornament  not  alone 
to  the  Jews,  but  to  the  German  nation.     Without 
Mendelssohn,  the  drama   of  "Nathan"   would  not 
have  been  written,  just  as  without  Lessing's  friend- 
ship Mendelssohn  would  not  have  become  what  he 
did    to    German   literature   and   the  Jewish   world. 
The  cordiality  of  the  intimacy  between  these  two 
friends   showed   itself  after   Lessing's  death.      I  lis 
brothers    and    friends,  who    only  after  his    demise 
realized  his   greatness,  turned,  in   the  anguish   of 
their  loss,  to  Mendelssohn,  as  if  it  were  natural  that 
he  should  be  the  chief  mourner.     And  in  very  sooth 
he  was  ;   none  of  his  associates  preserved  Lessing's 
memory   with    so    sorrowful    a    remembrance    and 
religious  a  reverence.      He  was  beyond  all  things 
solicitous  to  protect  his  former  friend  against  mis- 
apprehension and  slander. 

As  Mendelssohn,  without  knowing  or  desiring  it, 
stimulated  Lessing  to  create  an  ideal,  and  through 
him  helped  to  dispel  the  bias  against  Jews,  so  at 
the  same  time,  without  aiming  at  it,  he  inaugurated 
the  spiritual  regeneration  of  his  race.  The  Bible, 

328  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

especially  the  Pentateuch — the  all  in  all  of  the 
Jews — although  very  many  knew  it  by  heart,  had 
become  as  strange  to  them,  as  any  unintelligible 
book.  Rabbinical  and  Kabbalistic  expositors  had 
so  distorted  the  simple  biblical  sense  of  the  words, 
that  everything  was  found  in  it  except  the  actual 

Polish  school-masters — there  were  no  others — 
with  rod  and  angry  gestures,  instructed  Jewish  boys 
in  tender  youth  to  discover  the  most  absurd  perver- 
sities in  the  Holy  Book,  translating  it  into  their 
hateful  jargon,  and  so  confusing  the  text  with  their 
own  translation,  that  it  seemed  as  if  Moses  had 
spoken  in  the  barbarous  dialect  of  Polish  Jews. 

The  neglect  of  all  secular  knowledge,  which  in- 
creased with  every  century,  had  reached  such  a 
pitch  that  every  nonsensical  oddity,  even  blasphemy, 
was  subtly  read  into  the  verses  of  Scripture.  What 
had  been  intended  as  a  comfort  to  the  soul  was 
changed  into  a  poison.  Mendelssohn  acutely  felt 
this  ignorance  and  wresting  of  Bible  words,  for  he 
had  arrived  at  the  enlightened  view  that  Holy  Writ 
does  not  contain  "  that  which  Jews  and  Christians 
believe  they  can  find  therein,"  and  that  a  good,  sim- 
ple translation  would  be  an  important  step  towards 
the  promotion  of  culture  among  Jews.  But  in  his 
modesty  and  diffidence  it  did  not  occur  to  him  to 
employ  these  means  to  educate  his  brethren.  He 
compiled  a  translation  of  the  Pentateuch  for  his 
children,  to  give  them  a  thorough  education  and  to 
introduce  the  word  of  God  to  them  in  an  undisfig- 
ured  form,  without  troubling  (as  he  observed) 
"  whether  they  would  continue  to  be  compelled,  in 
Saxe-Gotha,  on  every  journey,  to  pay  for  their  Jew- 
ish heads  at  a  game  of  dice,  or  to  tell  the  story  of 
the  three  rings  to  every  petty  ruler."  It  was  only 
at  the  urgent  request  of  a  man  whose  word  carried 
weight  with  Mendelssohn,  that  he  decided  to  pub- 
lish his  translation  of  the  Pentateuch  into  German 


(in  Jewish-German  characters)  for  Jewish  readers. 
It  cost  him  an  effort,  however,  to  attach  his  name 
to  it. 

He  knew  his  Jewish  public  too  well  not  to  under- 
stand that  the  translation,  however  excellently  it 
might  be  done,  would  meet  with  little  approval,  un- 
less it  were  accompanied  by  a  Hebrew  exposition. 
Of  what  value  to  the  depraved  taste  of  Jewish 
readers  was  a  book  without  a  commentary?  From 
time  immemorial,  since  commentaries  and  super- 
commentaries  had  come  into  existence,  these  had 
been  much  more  admired  than  the  most  beautiful 
text.  Mendelssohn,  therefore,  obtained  the  assist- 
ance of  an  educated  Pole,  named  Solomon  Dubno, 
who,  a  praiseworthy  exception  to  his  countrymen, 
was  thoroughly  acquainted  with  Hebrew  grammar, 
to  undertake  the  composition  of  a  running  com- 
mentary. The  work  was  begun  by  securing  the 
necessary  subscribers,  without  whom  no  book  could 
at  that  time  be  issued.  It  became  apparent  that 
Mendelssohn  had  already  many  supporters  and  ad- 
mirers among  his  brethren,  within  and  beyond  Ger- 
many. His  undertaking,  which  was  to  remove  from 
the  Jews  the  reproach  of  ignorance  of  their  own  lit- 
erature, and  of  speaking  a  corrupt  language,  was 
hailed  with  joy.  Most  of  the  subscribers  came  from 
Berlin  and  Mendelssohn's  native  town,  Dessau, 
which  was  indeed  proud  of  him.  From  Poland  also 
orders  for  the  Germanized  "Torah"  arrived,  mostly 
from  Wilna,  where  Elijah  Wilna,  to  a  certain  extent 
a  liberal  thinker,  and  the  visionary  perversities  of 
the  New-Chassidim  had  drawn  attention  to  the 
Holy  Scriptures.  As  a  sign  of  the  times,  it  may 
also  be  noticed  that  the  translation  was  purchased 
by  Christians,  professors,  pastors,  court  preachers, 
consistorial  councilors,  court  councilors,  and  the 
nobility.  Mendelssohn's  Christian  friends  were, 
indeed,  extraordinarily  active  in  promoting  his  work. 
Eliza  Reimarus,  Lessing's  noble  friend,  even  col- 
lected subscriptions. 

330  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

Glad  as  were  Mendelssohn's  admirers  to  receive 
the  news  of  a  Pentateuch  translation  from  his  hand, 
so  disturbed  were  the  rigid  adherents  to  antiquity 
and  obsolete  habit.  They  felt  vividly,  without  being 
able  to  think  it  out  clearly,  that  the  old  times,  with 
their  ingenuous  credulity — which  regarded  every- 
thing with  unquestioned  faith  as  an  emanation  from 
a  Divine  source — would  now  sink  into  the  grave. 

No  sooner  was  a  specimen  of  the  translation 
published,  than  the  rabbis  of  the  old  school  were 
prejudiced  against  it,  and  planned  how  to  keep  the 
enemy  from  the  house  of  Jacob.  To  these  oppo- 
nents of  Mendelssohn's  enterprise  belonged  men 
who  brought  honor  upon  Judaism,  not  alone  by 
their  Rabbinical  scholarship  and  keen  intellects,  but 
also  by  their  nobility  of  character.  There  were  es- 
pecially three  men,  Poles  by  birth,  who  had  as  little 
appreciation  of  the  innovations  of  the  times  as  of 
beauty  of  form  and  purity  of  speech.  One  of  them, 
Ezekiel  Landau  (chief  rabbi  of  Prague,  from  the 
year  1752;  died  in  1793),  enjoyed  great  respect 
both  within  and  outside  his  community.  He  was  a 
clever  man,  and  learned  in  time  to  swim  with  the 
tide.  The  second,  Raphael  Cohen,  the  grandfather 
of  Riesser  (born  1722,  died  1803),  who  had  emi- 
grated from  Poland,  and  had  been  called  from  Posen 
to  the  rabbinate  of  the  three  communities  of  Ham- 
burg, Altona,  and  Wandsbeck,  was  a  firm,  decided 
character,  without  guile  or  duplicity,  who  as  judge 
meted  out  justice  without  respect  to  persons,  con- 
sidering justice  the  support  of  God's  throne.  The 
third  and  youngest  was  Hirsch  Janow,  a  son-in-law 
of  Raphael  Cohen,  who,  on  account  of  his  profound 
acumen  in  Talmudical  discussions,  was  called  the 
"keen  scholar"  (born  1750,  died  1785).  His  acute 
mind  was  equally  versed  in  the  intricate  problems 
of  mathematics  as  in  those  of  the  Talmud.  He  was 
thoroughly  unselfish,  the  trifling  income  that  he  re- 
ceived from  the  impoverished  community  of  Posen 


he  gave  away  to  the  unfortunate  ;  he  distributed 
alms  with  open-handed  benevolence,  and  without 
asking"  questions  whether  the  recipients  were  ortho- 
dox or  heretics,  whilst  he  himself  starved.  He  con- 
tracted debts  to  save  the  needy  from  misery. 
Solomon  Maimon,  a  deep  thinker,  who  had  oppor- 
tunities of  knowing  men  from  their  worst  side, 
called  this  rabbi  of  Posen  and  Fiirth  "a  godly  man," 
an  epithet  not  to  be  considered  an  exaggeration 
from  such  lips.  To  these  three  rabbis  a  fourth  kin- 
dred spirit  may  be  added,  Phineas  Levi  Hurwitz 
(born  1740;  died  1802),  rabbi  of  Frankfort-on-the- 
Main,  also  a  Pole,  educated  in  the  Chassidean 
school.  These  men,  and  others  who  thought  like 
them,  and  who  regarded  the  perusal  of  a  German 
book  as  a  grievous  sin,  from  their  point  of  view 
were  right  in  opposing  Mendelssohn's  innovation. 
They  perceived  that  the  Jewish  youth  would  learn 
the  German  lancaia^e  from  the  Mendelssohn  trans- 

<^          *j 

lation  more  than  an  understanding  of  the  "Torah"; 
that  the  former  would  strongly  tend  to  become  the 
chief  object  of  study ;  the  attention  to  Holy  Writ 
would  degenerate  into  an  unimportant  secondary 
matter,  whilst  the  study  of  the  Talmud  would  be 
completely  suppressed.  Though  Mendelssohn  him- 
self enjoyed  good  repute  from  a  religious  point  of 
view,  his  adherents  and  supporters  were  not  invar- 
iably free  from  reproach.  Unworthy  men,  who  had 
broken  with  Judaism,  and  conceitedly  termed  them- 
selves Mendelssohnians,  were  energetic  in  advanc- 
ing the  sale  of  the  translation,  and  thus  brought  it 
into  suspicion  with  the  rigidly  orthodox  party. 

Raphael  Cohen,  of  Hamburg,  a  man  of  hasty 
temper,  was  the  most  zealous  agitator  against  the 
German  version  of  the  Bible.  But  as  Mendelssohn 
had  relatives  on  his  wife's  side  in  this  town,  and 
also  many  admirers,  no  action  could  be  taken 
against  him  there  or  in  Prague,  where  there  were 
freethinkers  among  the  Jews.  Fiirth,  therefore, 

332  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

was  looked  upon  as  the  fittest  place  whence  the  in- 
terdict (about  June,  1779)  against  "the  German 
Pentateuch  of  Moses  of  Dessau"  should  be 
launched.  All  true  to  Judaism  were  forbidden,  un- 
der penalty  of  excommunication,  to  use  this  trans- 

Meanwhile  the  conflict  between  the  old  and  the 
new  Judaism  was  conducted  with  calmness,  and  no 
violent  symptoms  showed  themselves.  If  Jacob 
Emden  had  been  alive,  the  contest  would  have  raged 
more  fiercely,  and  evoked  more  disturbance.  Men- 
delssohn was  too  unselfish,  too  gentle  and  philoso- 
phically tranquil  to  grow  excited  on  hearing  of  the 
ban  against  his  undertaking,  or  to  solicit  the  aid  of 
his  Christian  friends  of  high  rank  in  silencing  his 
opponents.  He  was  prepared  for  opposition. 
"  As  soon  as  I  yielded  to  Dubno  to  have  my  trans- 
lation printed,  I  placed  my  soul  in  my  hands,  raised 
my  eyes  to  the  mountains,  and  gave  my  back  to  the 
smiters."  He  regarded  the  play  of  human  passions 
and  excessive  ardor  for  religion  as  natural  phenom- 
ena, which  demanded  quiet  observation.  He  did 
not  wish  to  disturb  this  peaceful  observation  by  ex- 
ternal influence,  by  threats  and  prohibitions,  or  by 
the  interference  of  the  temporal  power.  "  Perhaps 
a  little  excitement  serves  the  best  interests  of  the 
enterprise  nearest  to  my  heart."  He  suggested 
that  if  his  version  had  been  received  without  oppo- 
sition, its  superfluity  would  have  been  proved. 
"  The  more  the  so-called  wise  men  of  the  day  ob- 
ject to  it,  the  more  necessary  it  is.  At  first,  I  only 
intended  it  for  ordinary  people,  but  now  I  find  that 
it  is  much  more  needful  for  rabbis."  On  the  part  of 
his  opponents,  however,  no  decided  efforts  were 
made  to  suppress  his  translation,  which  appeared 
to  them  so  dangerous,  or  to  denounce  its  author. 
Only  in  certain  Polish  towns,  such  as  Posen  and 
Lissa,  it  was  forbidden,  and  it  is  said  to  have  been 
publicly  committed  to  the  flames.  Violent  action 

CH.   VIII.  THE    "  BERLIN    RELIGION."  333 

was  to  be  feared  only  from  the  indiscreet,  resolute 
Rabbi  Raphael  Cohen.  He  seems,  however,  to 
have  delayed  action  until  the  whole  appeared,  in 
order  to  obtain  proofs  of  deserved  condemnation. 
Mendelssohn,  therefore,  sought  help  to  counteract 
his  zeal.  He  prevailed  upon  his  friend,  Augustus 
von  Hennigs,  Danish  state  councilor  and  brother- 
in-law  of  his  intimate  friend,  Eliza  Reimarus,  to  try 
to  induce  the  king  of  Denmark  and  certain  courtiers 
to  become  subscribers  to  the  work ;  this  would 
quench  the  ardor  of  the  zealot.  Hennigs,  a  man  of 
hasty  action,  forthwith  turned  to  the  Danish  minis- 
ter, Von  Guldberg,  to  fulfill  the  request  of  Mendels- 
sohn. To  his  astonishment  and  Mendelssohn's,  he 
received  an  insulting  reply,  to  the  effect  that  the 
king  and  his  illustrious  brothers  were  prepared  to 
subscribe  if  the  minister  could  assure  them  that  the 
translation  contained  nothing  against  the  inspira- 
tion and  truth  of  the  Holy  Scriptures,  so  that  the 
Jews  might  not  afterwards  say  "  that  Moses  Men- 
delssohn was  an  adherent  to  the  (ill-famed)  religion 
of  Berlin." 

This  "  Berlin  religion  "  was  at  the  time  the  terror 
of  the  orthodox,  both  in  the  Church  and  the  Syna- 
gogue, and  it  cannot  be  said  to  have  been  an  idle 
fear.  To  keep  at  a  distance  this  scoffing  tendency 
against  religion,  over-zealous  rabbis  tried  to  block 
every  possible  avenue  of  approach  to  the  houses  of 
the  Jews.  Events  of  the  immediate  future  proved 
that  the  rabbis  were  not  pursuing  a  phantom. 
Mendelssohn,  in  his  innocent  piety,  did  not  recog- 
nize the  enemy,  although  it  passed  to  and  fro 
through  his  own  house.  At  length,  the  interdict 
against  Mendelssohn's  translation  of  the  Pentateuch 
was  promulgated  by  Raphael  Cohen  (July  i/th);  it 
was  directed  against  all  Jews  who  read  the  nr\v 
version.  The  author  himself  was  not  excommuni- 
cated, either  out  of  consideration  for  his  prominence, 
or  from  weakness  and  half-heartedness.  However, 

334  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

before  the  blow  fell,  Mendelssohn  had  warded  off 
its  consequences.  He  persuaded  Von  Hennigs  that 
he  need  have  no  scruples  about  obtaining  the  king's 
subscription  for  the  translation,  and  it  was  done. 
At  the  head  of  the  list  of  contributors  stood  the 
names  of  King  Christian  of  Denmark  and  the  Crown 
Prince.  By  this  means  Raphael  Cohen  was 
effectually  foiled  in  his  endeavors  to  condemn  and 
destroy  a  work  which  he  regarded  as  heretical. 

His  adversaries  nevertheless  struck  Mendelssohn 
a  blow,  to  hinder  the  completion  of  the  translation. 
They  succeeded  in  alienating  Solomon  Dubno,  his 
right-hand  man,  which  caused  Mendelssohn  serious 
perplexity.  That  his  work  might  not  remain  unfin- 
ished, he  had  to  undertake  the  commentary  to  the 
Pentateuch  himself,  but  finding  the  work  beyond  his- 
strength  he  was  obliged  to  seek  for  assistants.  In 
Wessely  he  found  a  co-operator  of  similar  dispo- 
sition to  his  own  ;  but  he  did  not  care  to  undertake 
the  whole  burden,  and  thus  Mendelssohn  was  com- 
pelled to  entrust  a  portion  to  Herz  Homberg,  his 
son's  tutor,  and  to  another  Pole,  Aaron  Jaroslav. 
The  former  was  not  altogether  a  congenial  asso- 
ciate. He  knew  that  Homberg  in  his  heart  was 
estranged  from  Judaism,  and  that  he  would  not 
execute  the  holy  work  according  to  his  method  and 
as  a  sacred  duty,  as  he  himself  felt  it  to  be.  But  he 
had  no  alternative.  Owing  to  Homberg's  partici- 
pation in  the  work,  the  translation,  finished  in  1 783, 
was  discredited  by  the  orthodox  ;  and  they  desired 
to  exclude  it  altogether  from  Jewish  houses. 

This  severity  roused  opposition.  Forbidden  fruit 
tastes  sweet.  Youthful  students  of  the  Talmud 
seized  upon  the  German  translation  behind  the 
backs  of  their  masters,  who  depreciated  the  new  in- 
fluence, and  in  secret  learned  at  once  the  most 
elementary  and  the  most  sublime  lessons — the  Ger- 
man language  and  the  philosophy  of  religion, 
Hebrew  grammar  and  poetry.  A  new  view  of  the 


world  was  opened  to  them.  The  Hebrew  com- 
mentary served  as  a  guide  to  a  proper  understand- 
ing of  the  translation.  As  if  touched  by  a  magic 
wand,  the  Talmud  students,  fossils  of  the  musty 
schoolhouses,  were  transfigured,  and  upon  the  wings 
of  the  intellect  they  soared  above  the  gloomy  present, 
and  took  their  flight  heavenwards.  An  insatiable 
desire  for  knowledge  took  possession  of  them  ;  no 
territory,  however  dark,  remained  inaccessible  to 
them.  The  acumen,  quick  comprehension,  and  pro- 
found penetrativeness,  which  these  youths  had  ac- 
quired in  their  close  study  of  the  Talmud,  rendered 
it  easy  for  them  to  take  their  position  in  the  newly- 
discovered  world.  Thousands  of  Talmud  students 
from  the  great  schools  of  Hamburg,  Prague,  Nikols- 
burg,  Frankfort-on-the-Main,  Fiirth,  and  even  from 
Poland,  became  little  Menclelssohns  ;  many  of  them 
eloquent,  profound  thinkers.  With  them  Judaism 
renewed  its  youth.  All  who,  towards  the  end  of  the 
eighteenth  and  the  beginning  of  the  nineteenth  cen- 
tury, were  in  various  ways  public  workers,  had  up 
to  a  certain  period  in  their  lives  been  one-sided 
Talmudists,  and  needed  the  inspiration  of  Mendels- 
sohn's example  to  become  exponents  and  promoters 
of  culture  among  Jews.  In  a  very  short  time  a 
numerous  band  of  Jewish  authors  arose,  who  wrote 
in  a  clear  Hebrew  or  German  style  upon  matters 
of  which  shortly  before  they  had  had  no  knowledge. 
The  Mendelssohn  translation  speedily  resulted  in  a 
veritable  renaissance  of  the  Jews.  They  found  their 
level  in  European  civilization  more  quickly  than  the 
Germans,  and — what  should  not  be  overlooked- 
Talmuclic  schooling  had  sharpened  their  intelligence. 
Mendelssohn's  translation  of  the  Pentateuch,  to- 
gether with  his  paraphrase  of  the  Psalms,  has  pro- 
duced more  good  than  that  of  Luther,  because  in- 
stead of  fossilizing,  it  animated  the  mind.  The  inner 
freedom  of  the  Jews,  as  has  been  said,  dates  from 
this  translation. 

336  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

The  beginning  of  the  outward  liberation  of  the 
Jews  from  the  cruel  bondage  of  thousands  of  years 
was  also  connected  with  Mendelssohn's  name,  and 
like  his  activity  for  their  internal  freedom  was  un- 
conscious, without  violence  or  calculation.  It  seems 
a  miracle,  though  no  marvelous  occurrence  accom- 
panied it.  It  secured  to  the  Jews  two  advocates, 
than  whom  none  more  zealous,  none  warmer  could 
be  desired  :  these  were  Lessing  and  Dohm. 

Since  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century  the 
attention  of  the  cultured  world  had  been  directed 
towards  the  Jews  without  any  action  on  their  part. 
Montesquieu,  the  first  to  penetrate  to  the  profound 
depths  of  human  laws  and  reveal  their  spirit,  was 
also  the  first  to  raise  his  weighty  voice  against  the 
barbarous  treatment  of  the  Jews.  In  his  widely-read, 
suggestive  work,  "  Spirit  of  the  Laws,"  he  had  dem- 
onstrated, with  convincing  arguments,  the  harm  that 
the  ill-treatment  of  the  Jews  had  caused  to  states, 
and  branded  the  cruelty  of  the  Inquisition  with  an 
ineradicable  stigma.  The  piercing  cry  of  agony  of 
a  tortured  Marrano  at  sight  of  a  stake  prepared  for 
a  "Judaizing"  maiden  of  eighteen  years  of  age  in 
Lisbon  had  aroused  Montesquieu,  and  the  echo  of 
his  voice  resounded  throughout  Europe. 

"You  Christians  complain  that  the  Emperor  of  China  roasts  all 
Christians  in  his  dominions  over  a  slow  fire.  You  behave  much 
worse  towards  Jews,  because  they  do  not  believe  as  you  do.  If  any 
of  our  descendants  should  ever  venture  to  say  that  the  nations  of 
Europe  were  cultured,  your  example  will  be  adduced  to  prove  that 
they  were  barbarians.  The  picture  that  they  will  draw  of  you  will 
certainly  stain  your  age,  and  spread  abroad  hatred  of  all  your  con- 

Montesquieu  had  rediscovered  the  true  idea  of 
justice,  which  mankind  had  lost.  But  how  difficult 
was  it  to  cause  this  idea  to  be  fully  recognized  with 
reference  to  Jews ! 

Two  events  had  brought  the  Jews,  their  concerns, 
their  present,  and  their  past  before  public  notice  : 
their  demand  for  a  legal  standing  in  England,  and 


Voltaire's  attacks  upon  them.  In  England,  where 
a  century  before  they  had,  as  it  were,  crept  in,  they 
formed  a  separate  community,  especially  in  the  cap- 
ital, without  being  tolerated  or  recognized  by  law. 
They  were  regarded  as  foreigners — as  Spaniards, 
Portuguese,  Dutchmen,  or  Germans,  and  had  to  pay 
the  alien  duty.  However,  the  authorities,  especially 
the  judges,  showed  regard  for  the  Jewish  belief ;  for 
instance,  they  did  not  summon  Jewish  witnesses 
on  the  Sabbath.  After  the  Jews  settled  in  the 
American  colonies  of  England  had  been  naturalized, 
a  bill  was  presented  in  Parliament  by  merchants 
and  manufacturers,  Jews  and  their  friends,  to  be 
sure,  begging  that  they  be  treated  as  natives  of 
England,  without  being  compelled  to  obtain  civil 
rights  by  taking  the  sacrament,  as  the  law  pre- 
scribed. Pelham,  the  minister,  supported  the  peti- 
tion, and  pointed  out  the  advantages  that  would  ac- 
crue to  the  country  by  the  large  capital  of  the  Por- 
tuguese Jews  and  their  warm  attachment  to  England. 
By  their  opponents,  however,  partly  self-interest, 
partly  religious  prejudices  were  brought  to  bear 
against  them.  It  was  urged  that,  placed  on  an  equal 
footing  with  English  citizens,  the  Jews  would  acquire 
the  whole  wealth  of  the  kingdom,  would  obtain  pos- 
session of  all  the  landed  property,  and  disinherit 
Christians  :  the  latter  would  be  their  slaves,  and  the 
Jews  would  choose  their  own  rulers  and  kings. 
Orthodox  literalists  argued  that  according  to  Chris- 

O  c5 

tian  prophecies  they  were  to  remain  without  a  home 
until  gathered  to  the  land  of  their  fathers.  Sur- 
prisingly enough,  a  bill  was  passed  by  the  Upper 
House  permitting  Jews  who  had  resided  in  England 
or  Ireland  for  three  consecutive  years  to  be  natural- 
ized ;  but  they  were  not  to  occupy  any  secular  or 
clerical  office,  nor  to  receive  the  Parliamentary  fran- 
chise. The  lords  and  the  bishops,  then,  were  not 
opposed  to  the  Jews.  The  majority  of  the  Lower 
House  also  agreed  to  the  bill, and  George  II  ratified 

338  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

it  (March,  1753).  Was  the  decision  of  the  Three 
Estates  really  the  expression  of  the  majority  of  the 
nation  ?  This  at  once  became  doubtful :  impreca- 
tions were  immediately  thundered  from  pulpits, 
guilds,  and  the  taverns  against  the  ministry  which 
had  urged  the  Naturalization  Act  for  Jews.  In  our 
days  it  seems  hardly  credible  that  the  London  mer- 
chants should  have  feared  the  ruin  of  their  trade  by 
the  influx  of  Jewish  capitalists.  Deacon  Josiah 
Tucker,  who  took  the  part  of  the  Jews,  and  defended 
the  Naturalization  Act,  was  attacked  by  the  oppo- 
sition in  Parliament,  in  the  newspapers,  and  in 
pamphlets,  and  his  effigy,  together  with  his  defense 
of  the  Jews,  was  burnt  at  Bristol.  To  the  vexation 
of  the  liberal-minded,  the  ministry  were  weak 
enough  to  yield  to  the  clamor  of  the  populace  arising 
from  mercantile  jealousy  and  fanatical  intolerance, 
and  to  annul  their  own  work  (1754)  "  because  it  had 
provoked  displeasure,  and  the  minds  of  many  loyal 
subjects  had  been  disquieted  thereby."  For,  even 
the  most  violent  enemies  of  the  act  could  not  impute 
evil  to  the  Jews  of  England  ;  they  created  a  good 
impression  upon  Englishmen  by  their  riches,  ac- 
cumulated without  usury,  and  by  their  noble  bearing. 
Public  opinion  warmly  sided  with  them  and  their 
claims  for  civil  equality,  and  if,  for  the  moment, 
these  were  disregarded,  yet  no  unfavorable  result 

The  second  occurrence,  although  originating  in  a 
single  person,  roused  even  more  attention  than  the 
action  of  the  English  Parliament  towards  the  Jews. 
This  person  was  Arouet  de  Voltaire,  king  in  the 
domain  of  literature  in  the  eighteenth  century,  who 
with  his  demoniacal  laughter  blew  down  like  a  house 
of  cards  the  stronghold  of  the  Middle  Ages.  He, 
who  believed  neither  in  Providence  nor  in  the  moral 
progress  of  mankind,  was  a  mighty  instrument  of 
history  in  the  advancement  of  progress.  Voltaire — 
in  his  writings  an  entrancing  wizard,  a  sage,  in  his 

CH.  VIII.  VOLTAIRE    AND    THE    JEWS.  339 

life  a  fool,  the  slave  of  base  passions — picked  a 
quarrel  with  the  Jews,  and  sneered  at  them  and  their 
past.  His  hostility  arose  from  personal  ill-humor 
and  irritability.  He  maintained  that  during  his  stay 
in  London  he  lost  eighty  per  cent  of  a  loan  of 
25,000  francs,  through  the  bankruptcy  of  a  Jewish 
capitalist  named  Medina.  He  cannot,  however, 
always  be  believed. 

"  Medina  told  me  that  he  was  not  to  blame  for  his  bankruptcy : 
that  he  was  unfortunate,  that  he  had  never  been  a  son  of  Belial. 
He  moved  me,  I  embraced  him,  we  praised  God  together,  and  I  lost 
my  money.  I  have  never  hated  the  Jewish  nation  ;  I  hate  nobody." 

Yet,  a  low-minded  Harpagon,  who  clung  to  his 
money,  Voltaire,  on  account  of  this  large  or  small 
loss,  hated  not  only  this  Jew,  but  all  Jews  on  earth. 
A  second  incident  excited  him  still  more  against 
them.  When  Voltaire  was  in  Berlin  and  Potsdam 
as  court  poet,  literary  mentor,  and  attendant  of 
King  Frederick,  who  both  admired  and  detested 
this  diabolical  genius,  he  gave  a  filthy  commission 
to  a  Jewish  jeweler,  named  Hirsch,  or  Hirschel 
(1750),  which  he  afterwards,  at  the  instigation  of  a 
rival  in  the  trade,  named  Ephraim  Veitel,  wished  to 
withdraw.  Friction  arose  between  Voltaire  and 
Hirschel,  until  some  arrangement  was  made,  which 
the  former  afterwards  desired  to  evade.  In  a  word, 
Voltaire  practiced  a  series  of  mean  tricks  upon  his 
Jewish  tradesman :  cheated  him  about  some  dia- 
monds, abused  him,  lied,  forged  documents,  and 
acted  as  if  he  were  the  injured  party.  At  length  a 
complicated  lawsuit  sprang  from  these  proceedings. 
King  Frederick,  who  had  obtained  information  of 
all  this  from  the  legal  documents,  and  from  a  pam- 
phlet, written  ostensibly  by  Hirsch,  in  reality  by 
Voltaire's  enemies,  was  highly  enraged  with  tin 
poet  and  philosopher  scamp.  He  resolved  to  ban- 
ish him  from  Prussia,  and  wrote  against  him  a  com- 
edy in  French  verse,  called  "Tantalus  in  the  Law 
suit."  Voltaire's  quarrel  with  the  Prussian  Jew 

340  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

created  a  sensation,  and  provided  ample  material 
for  the  mischievous  delight  of  his  opponents. 

Next  to  avarice,  revenge  was  a  prominent  feat- 
ure  in  his  character.  It  was  too  trifling  for  Voltaire 
to  avenge  himself  upon  the  individual  Jew  who  had 
contributed  to  his  humiliation  ;  he  determined  to 
make  the  whole  Jewish  nation  feel  his  hatred. 
Whenever  he  had  an  opportunity  of  speaking  of 
Judaism  or  Jews,  he  bespattered  the  Jews  of  the 
past  and  the  present  with  his  obscene  satire.  This 
accorded  with  his  method  of  warfare.  Christianity, 
which  he  thoroughly  hated  and  despised,  could  not 
be  attacked  openly  without  rendering  the  aggressor 
liable  to  severe  punishment.  Judaism,  the  parent 
of  Christianity,  therefore  served  as  the  target, 
against  which  he  hurled  his  elegant,  lightly  bran- 
dished, but  venomous  darts.  In  one  of  his  essays 
particularly  he  poured  forth  his  gall  against  Jews 
and  Judaism. 

This  partial  and  superficial  estimate  of  the  Jews, 
this  summary  judgment  of  a  whole  people,  and  a 
history  of  a  thousand  years,  irritated  many  truth- 
loving  men  ;  but  no  one  dared  provoke  a  quarrel 
with  so  dreaded  an  antagonist  as  Voltaire.  It  re- 
quired a  bold  spirit,  but  it  was  hazarded  by  a  cul- 
tured Jew,  named  Isaac  Pinto,  more  from  skillfully- 
calculated  motives  than  from  indignation  at  Voltaire's 
baseless  defamation.  Pinto  (born  in  Bordeaux, 
1715;  died  in  Amsterdam,  1787)  belonged  to  a 
Portuguese  Marrano  family,  was  rich,  cultivated, 
noble,  and  disinterested  in  his  own  affairs  ;  but  suf- 
fered from  pardonable  egoism,  namely,  on  behalf 
of  the  community.  After  leaving  Bordeaux  he  set- 
tled in  Amsterdam,  where  he  not  only  served  the 
Portuguese  community,  but  also  advanced  large 
sums  of  money  to  the  government  of  Holland,  and 
therefore  held  an  honorable  position.  He  always 
took  warm  interest  in  the  congregation  in  which 
he  had  been  born,  and  assisted  it  by  word  and 


deed.  But  his  heart  was  most  devoted  to  the  Por- 
tuguese Jews,  his  brethren  by  race  and  speech  ;  on 
the  other  hand,  he  was  indifferent  and  cold  towards 
the  Jews  of  the  German  and  Polish  tongues ;  he 
looked  down  upon  them  with  disdainful  pride,  as 
Christians  of  rank  upon  lowly  Jews.  Nobility  of 
mind  and  pride  of  race  were  intimately  combined  in 
Pinto.  In  certain  unpleasant  matters  in  which  the 
Portuguese  community  of  Bordeaux  had  become 
entangled,  he  displayed,  on  the  one  hand,  ardent 
zeal,  on  the  other,  hardness  of  heart.  In  this  pros- 
perous commercial  town,  since  the  middle  of  the 
sixteenth  century,  there  had  flourished  a  congrega- 
tion of  fugitive  Marranos,  who  had  fled  from  the 
prisons  and  the  autos-da-fe  of  the  Spanish  and  Por- 
tuguese Inquisition.  These  refugees  had  brought 
considerable  capital  and  an  enterprising  spirit,  and 
thus  secured  right  of  residence  and  certain  privil- 
eges, but  only  under  the  name  of  new-Christians  or 
Portuguese  merchants.  For  a  time  they  were 
forced  to  undergo  the  hypocrisy  of  having  their 
marriages  solemnized  in  the  churches.  Their  num- 
bers gradually  increased;  in  two  centuries  (1550— 
1750)  the  congregation  of  Bordeaux  had  grown  to 
200  families,  or  500  souls.  The  majority  of  the 
Portuguese  Jews,  or  new-Christians,  of  Bordeaux, 
kept  large  banking-houses,  engaged  in  the  manu- 
facture of  arms,  equipped  ships,  or  undertook  trans- 
marine business  with  French  colonies.  To  their 
importance  as  merchants  and  ship-owners  they 
united  staunch  uprightness,  blameless  honesty  in 
business,  liberality  towards  Jews  and  non-Jews,  and 
the  dignity  which  they  had  brought  from  the  Pyre- 
nean  peninsula,  their  unnatural  mother-country. 
Thus  they  gained  respect  and  distinction  among 
the  Christian  inhabitants  of  Bordeaux,  and  the 
French  court  as  well  as  the  high  officials  connived 
at  their  presence,  and  gradually  came  to  recognize 
them  as  Jews.  The  important  mercantile  town  also 

342  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

attracted  German  Jews  from  Alsace,  and  French 
Jews  from  Avignon,  under  papal  government,  who 
obtained  the  right  to  settle  by  paying  large  sums 
of  money.  The  Portuguese  Jews  were  jealous  ; 
they  feared  that  they  would  be  placed  on  a  level 
with  these  co-religionists,  who  were  little  educated, 
and  engaged  in  petty  trading  or  monetary  trans- 
actions, and  that  they  would  lose  their  honorable 
reputation.  Induced  by  these  selfish  motives  they 
exerted  themselves  to  have  the  immigrant  German 
and  Avignon  Jews  expelled  from  the  town,  by  ap- 
pealing to  the  old  edict  that  Jews  mighfnot  dwell 
in  France.  But  the  exiles  contrived  to  gain  the 
protection  of  influential  persons  at  court,  and  thus 
obtained  the  privilege  of  sojourn.  Through  the 
connivance  of  the  authorities,  152  foreign  Jews  had 
already  flocked  to  Bordeaux,  several  of  whom  had 
powerful  friends.  This  was  a  thorn  in  the  side  of 
the  Portuguese,  and  to  hinder  the  influx  of  stran- 
gers, they  passed  (1760)  an  illiberal  communal  law 
against  their  foreign  co-religionists.  They  branded 
every  foreign  Jew  not  of  Portuguese  origin  as  a 
vagrant  and  a  beggar,  and  as  a  burden  to  the 
wealthy.  They  calumniated  the  strangers,  assert- 
ing that  they  followed  dishonorable,  fraudulent  oc- 
cupations, and  thereby  predisposed  the  citizens  and 
authorities  against  them.  According  to  their  pro- 
posal, Portuguese  Jews,  or  their  council,  should  be 
vested  with  the  right  to  expel  the  foreign  Jews,  or 
"vagrants,"  from  the  town  within  three  days.  This 
cruel  and  heartless  statute  had  to  be  confirmed  by 
King  Louis  XV.  It  was  not  difficult  to  obtain  from 
this  monarch,  who  was  ruled  by  his  wives  and  his 
courtiers,  the  most  inhuman  petitions.  A  friend 
and  kinsman  of  Isaac  Pinto  undertook  to  get  the 
sanction  of  the  court  for  this  statute. 

This  was  Jacob  Rodrigues  Pereira  (born  in  Spain, 
1715;  died  in  Paris,  1780),  grandfather  of  the  fam- 
ous and  enterprising  Emile  and  Isaac  Pereira,  a 

CH.   VIII.  JACOB    PEREIRA.  343 

man  of  talent  and  noble  character,  and  an  artist  of  a 
peculiar  kind,  who  had  obtained  wide  renown.  He 
had  invented  a  sign  language  for  the  deaf  and 
dumb,  and  taught  these  unfortunate  people  a  means 
of  expressing  their  thoughts.  As  a  Marrano,  he 
had  taught  the  deaf  and  dumb  in  Spain.  Love  for 
the  religion  of  his  ancestors,  or  hatred  of  the  blood- 
thirsty Catholic  Church  impelled  him  to  leave  the 
land  of  the  Inquisition  (about  1734),  and,  together 
with  his  mother  and  sister,  to  emigrate  to  Bor- 
deaux. Here,  even  before  Abbe  de  1'Epee,  he  so 
thoroughly  verified  his  theory  for  the  instruction  of 
those  born  dumb,  in  a  specially  appointed  school, 
that  the  king  conferred  a  reward,  and  the  first  men 
of  science — D'Alembert,  Buffon,  Diderot,  and  Rous- 
seau— lavished  praises  upon  him.  Pereira  after- 
wards became  royal  interpreter  and  member  of  the 
Royal  Society  in  London.  The  Portuguese  com- 
munity of  Bordeaux  appointed  him  their  represen- 
tative in  Paris,  to  ventilate  their  complaints  and 
accomplish  their  ends.  Moved  with  sympathy  for 
the  unfortunate,  he  was  yet  so  filled  with  communal 
egoism,  that  he  did  not  hesitate  to  inflict  injury 
upon  his  German  and  Avignon  co-religionists. 
The  commission  to  secure  from  Louis  XV  the  rati- 
fication of  the  proposed  statute,  he  carried  out  but 
too  conscientiously.  But  in  the  disorderly  govern- 
ment of  this  king  and  his  court  there  was  a  vast 
difference  between  the  passing  and  the  administer- 
ing of  a  law.  The  higher  officials  were  able  to  cir- 
cumvent any  law  or  defer  its  execution.  The  ex- 
pulsion of  the  lews  of  German  and  Avignon  origin 

•J  ^>  fj 

from  Bordeaux  lay  in  the  hands  of  the  governor, 
the  Due  de  Richelieu.  Isaac  Pinto,  who  was  on  in- 
timate terms  with  him,  was  able  to  win  his  support. 
Richelieu  issued  an  urgent  command  (November, 
1761)  that  within  two  weeks  all  foreign  Jews  should 
be  banished  from  Bordeaux.  Exception  was  made 
only  in  favor  of  two  old  men  and  women  whom  the 

344  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

hardships  of  the  expulsion  would  have  killed,  and 
of  a  man  who  had  been  of  service  to  the  town 
(Jacob  de  Perpignan).  All  the  rest  were  plunged 
into  unavoidable  distress,  as  it  was  forbidden  to 
Jews  to  settle  anywhere  in  France,  and  the  districts 
and  towns  where  Jews  already  dwelt  admitted  no 
new-comers.  What  a  difference  between  the  Ger- 
man Jew  Moses  Mendelssohn  and  the  Portuguese 
Jews  Isaac  Pinto  and  Rodrigues  Pereira,  who  in 
their  time  were  ranked  side  by  side  !  The  former 
did  not  cease  his  efforts,  until  by  his  influence  he 
brought  help  to  his  unhappy  brethren,  or  at  least 
offered  them  comfort.  For  the  Jews  in  Switzerland, 
who  were  tolerated  only  in  two  small  towns,  and 
even  there  were  so  enslaved  that  they  must  have 
died  out,  Mendelssohn  procured  some  alleviation 
through  his  opponent  Lavater.  Several  hundred 
Jews  were  about  to  be  expelled  from  Dresden,  be- 
cause they  could  not  pay  the  poll-tax  laid  upon 
them.  Through  Mendelssohn's  intercession  with 
one  of  his  numerous  admirers,  Cabinet  Councilor 
Von  Ferber,  the  unfortunate  people  obtained  per- 
mission to  remain  in  Dresden.  To  a  Jewish  Tal- 
mudical  scholar  unjustly  suspected  of  theft  and 
imprisoned  in  Leipsic,  Mendelssohn  cleverly  con- 
trived to  send  a  letter  of  consolation,  whereby 
he  gained  his  freedom.  Isaac  Pinto  and  Jacob 
Pereira,  on  the  other  hand,  were  zealous  in 
bringing  about  the  expulsion  of  their  brethren  by 
race  and  religion,  which  Mendelssohn  considered 
the  hardest  punishment  of  the  Jews,  "  equal  to  an- 
nihilation from  the  face  of  God's  earth,  where 
armed  prejudice  repulses  them  at  every  frontier." 

The  cruel  proceedings  of  the  Portuguese  Jews 
against  their  brethren  in  Bordeaux  made  a  great 
stir.  If  Jews  might  not  tarry  in  France,  why  should 
those  of  Portuguese  tongue  be  tolerated  ?  The 
latter,  therefore,  saw  themselves  compelled  to  put 
themselves  in  a  favorable  light,  and  requested  Isaac 

CH.  VIII.  PINTO  S    DEFENSE.  345 

Pinto,  who  had  already  appeared  in  public,  and 
possessed  literary  culture,  to  write  a  sort  of  vindi- 
cation for  them,  and  make  clear  the  wide  difference 
between  Jews  of  Portuguese  descent  and  those  of 
other  lands.  Pinto  consented,  or  rather  followed 
his  own  inclination,  and  prepared  the  "  Reflections  " 
upon  Voltaire's  defamation  of  Judaism  (1762).  He 
told  this  reckless  calumniator  that  the  crime  of 
libeling  single  individuals  was  increased  when  the 
false  accusations  affected  a  whole  nation,  and 
reached  its  highest  degree  when  directed  against  a 
people  insulted  by  all  men,  and  when  the  responsi- 
bility for  the  misdeeds  of  a  few  is  laid  upon  the 
whole  body,  whose  members,  moreover,  widely 
scattered,  have  assumed  the  character  of  the 
inhabitants  of  the  country  in  which  they  live. 
An  English  Jew  as  little  resembles  his  co-relig- 
ionist of  Constantinople,  as  the  latter  does  a  Chi- 
nese mandarin  ;  the  Jew  of  Bordeaux  and  he  of 
Metz  are  two  utterly  different  beings.  Neverthe- 
less, Voltaire  had  indiscriminately  condemned  them, 
and  his  sketch  of  them  was  as  absurd  as  untrue. 
Voltaire,  who  felt  called  upon  to  extirpate  preju- 
dices, had  in  fact  lent  his  pen  to  the  greatest  of 
them.  He  does  not  indeed  wish  them  to  be  burnt, 
but  a  number  of  Jews  would  rather  be  burnt  than 
so  calumniated.  "  The  Jews  are  not  more  ignorant, 
more  barbarous,  or  superstitious  than  other  nations, 
least  of  all  do  they  merit  the  accusation  of  avarice." 
Voltaire  owed  a  duty  to  the  Jews,  to  truth,  to  his 
century,  and  to  posterity,  which  would  justly  appeal 
to  his  authority  when  abusing  and  trying  to  crush 
an  exceedingly  unhappy  people. 

However,  as  already  said,  it  was  not  so  much 
Pinto's  aim  to  vindicate  the  whole  of  the  Jewish 
world  against  Voltaire's  malicious  charges  as  to 
place  his  kinsmen,  the  Portuguese  or  Sephardic 
Jews,  in  a  more  favorable  light.  To  this  end,  lu: 
pretended  that  a  wide  gulf  existed  between  thrm 

346  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

and  those  of  other  extraction,  especially  the  German 
and  Polish  Jews.  He  averred,  with  great  exagger- 
ation, that  if  a  Sephardic  Jew  in  England  or  Holland 
wedded  a  German  Jewess,  he  would  be  excluded 
from  the  community  by  his  relatives,  and  would  not 
even  find  a  resting-place  in  their  cemetery.  This 
arose  from  the  fact  that  the  Portuguese  Jews  traced 
their  lineage  from  the  noblest  families  of  the  tribe 
of  Judah,  and  that  their  noble  descent  had  always 
in  Spain  and  Portugal  been  an  impulse  to  great  vir- 
tues and  a  protection  against  vice  and  crime. 
Among  them  no  traces  of  the  wickedness  or  evil 
deeds  of  which  Voltaire  accused  them  were  to  be 
found.  On  the  contrary,  they  had  brought  wealth 
to  the  states  which  received  them,  especially  to  Hol- 
land. The  German  and  Polish  Jews,  on  the  other 
hand,  Pinto  abandoned  to  the  attacks  of  their  de- 
tractors, except  that  he  excused  their  not  over 
honorable  trades  and  despicable  actions  by  the 
overwhelming  sufferings,  the  slavery,  and  humiliation 
which  they  had  endured,  and  were  still  enduring. 
He  succeeded  in  obtaining  what  he  had  desired.  In 
reply,  Voltaire  paid  him  and  the  Portuguese  Jews 
compliments,  and  admitted  that  he  had  done  wrong 
in  including  them  in  his  charges,  but  nevertheless 
continued  to  abuse  Jewish  antiquity. 

Pinto's  defense  attracted  great  attention.  The 
press,  both  French  and  English,  pronounced  a 
favorable  judgment,  and  espoused  the  cause  of  the 
Jews  against  Voltaire.  But  they  blamed  Pinto  for 
having  been  too  partial  to  the  Portuguese,  and  too 
strongly  opposed  to  the  German  and  Polish  Jews, 
and,  like  Voltaire,  passing  sentence  upon  all  indis- 
criminately, because  of  the  behavior  of  a  few  indi- 
viduals. A  Catholic  priest  under  a  Jewish  disguise 
took  up  the  cause  of  Hebrew  antiquity.  He  ad- 
dressed "  Jewish  Letters "  to  Voltaire,  pretending 
that  they  came  from  Portuguese  and  German  Jews  ; 
these  were  well  meant  but  badly  composed.  They 

CH.   VIII.  JEW    HATRED    IN    ALSACE.  347 

were  widely  read,  and  helped  to  turn  the  current 
of  public  opinion  in  favor  of  the  Jews  against 
Voltaire's  savage  attacks.  They  did  not  fail  to  re- 
mind him  that  owing  to  loss  of  money  sustained 
through  one  Jew  he  pursued  the  whole  race  with  his 
anger.  This  friendly  pamphlet  on  behalf  of  the 
Jews  being  written  in  French,  then  the  fashionable 
language,  it  was  extensively  read  and  discussed,  and 
found  a  favorable  reception. 

Sympathy  for  the  Jews  and  the  movement  to  ele- 
vate them  from  their  servile  position  were  most 
materially  stimulated  by  a  persecution  which  humane 
thinkers  of  the  time  considered  surprising  and  un- 
expected, but  which  has  often  been  repeated  in  the 
midst  of  Christian  nations.  This  persecution  kindled 
passions  on  both  sides,  and  awakened  men  to 
activity.  In  no  part  of  Europe,  perhaps,  were  the 
oppression  and  abasement  of  Jews  greater  than  in 
the  originally  German,  but  at  that  time  French  pro- 
vince of  Alsace,  to  which  Metz  may  be  reckoned. 
All  causes  of  inveterate  Jew-hatred — clerical  intol- 
erance, racial  antipathy,  arbitrariness  of  the  nobility, 
mercantile  jealousy,  and  brute  ignorance — were 
combined  against  the  Jews  of  Alsace,  to  render  their 
existence  in  the  century  of  enlightenment  a  con- 
tinual hell.  Yet  the  oppression  was  so  paltry  in  its 
nature  that  it  could  never  stimulate  the  Jews  to  offer 
heroic  resistance.  The  German  populace  of  this 
province,  like  Germans  in  general,  clung  tenaciously 
to  their  hatred  of  the  Jews.  Both  the  nobles  and 
citizens  of  Alsace  turned  a  deaf  ear  to  the  voice  of 
humanity,  which  spoke  so  eloquently  in  French  liter- 
ature, and  would  not  abate  one  jot  of  their  legal 
rights  over  the  Jews,  who  were  treated  as  serfs.  In 
Alsace  there  lived  from  three  to  four  thousand  Jew- 
ish families  (from  fifteen  to  twenty  thousand  souls). 
It  was  in  the  power  of  the  nobility  to  admit  new,  or 
expel  old  families.  In  Metz  the  merchants  had  had 
a  law  passed  limiting  Jews  to  four  hundred  and 

348  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

eighty  families.  This  condition  of  affairs  had  the 
same  consequences  as  in  Austria  and  Prussia : 
younger  sons  were  condemned  to  celibacy,  or  exile 
from  their  paternal  home,  and  daughters  to  remain 
unmarried.  In  fact,  it  was  worse  than  in  Austria 
and  elsewhere,  because  German  pedantry  carefully 
looked  to  the  execution  of  these  rigorous  Pharaonic 
laws,  and  stealthily  watched  the  French  officials,  lest 
any  attempt  be  made  to  show  indulgence  towards 
the  unfortunate  people.  Naturally  the  Jews  of  Al- 
sace and  Metz  were  enclosed  in  Ghettos,  and  could 
only  occasionally  pass  through  the  other  parts  of  the 
towns.  For  these  privileges  they  were  compelled 
to  pay  exorbitant  taxes. 

Louis  XIV  had  presented  a  portion  of  his  income 
derived  from  the  Jews  of  Metz  as  a  gift  to  the  Due 
de  Brancas  and  the  Countess  de  Fontaine.  They 
had  to  pay  these  persons  20,000  livres  annually ; 
besides  poll-taxes,  trade-taxes,  house-taxes,  con- 
tributions to  churches  and  hospitals,  war-taxes,  and 
exactions  of  every  sort  under  other  names. 

In  Alsace  they  were  obliged  to  pay  protection- 
money  to  the  king,  tribute  to  the  bishop  of  Stras- 
burg,  and  the  duke  of  Hagenau,  besides  residence- 
taxes  to  the  nobles  in  whose  feudal  territory  they 
dwelt,  and  war-taxes.  The  privilege  of  residence 
did  not  descend  to  the  eldest  son,  but  had  to  be  pur- 
chased from  the  nobleman,  as  if  the  son  were  a  for- 
eign applicant  for  protection.  The  Jews  had  to  win 
the  good  opinion,  not  alone  of  their  lord,  but  also  of 
his  officials,  by  rich  gifts  at  New  Year,  and  on  other 
occasions.  Whence  could  they  procure  all  these 
moneys,  and  still  support  their  synagogues  and 
schools  ? 

Almost  every  handicraft  and  trade  were  forbid- 
den them  in  Alsace :  legally  they  could  engage 
only  in  cattle-dealing,  and  in  trading  in  gold  and 
silver.  In  Metz  the  Jews  were  allowed  to  kill  only 
such  animals  as  they  required  for  private  consump- 


tion,  and* the  appointed  slaughterers  had  to  keep  a 
list  of  the  animals  slain.  If  they  wished  to  make  a 
journey  outside  their  narrow  province,  they  had  to 
pay  a  poll-tax,  and  were  subjected  to  the  vexations 
of  passports.  In  Strasburg,  the  capital  of  the  pro- 
vince, no  Jew  could  stay  over  night.  What  re- 
mained but  to  obtain  the  money  indispensable  for 
their  wretched  existence  in  an  illegal  way — through 
usury  ?  Those  who  possessed  money  made  advan- 
ces to  the  small  tradesmen,  farmers,  and  vinedress- 
ers, at  the  risk  of  losing  the  amounts  lent,  and 
demanded  high  interest,  or  employed  other  artifices. 
This  only  caused  them  to  be  more  hated,  and  the 
growing  impoverishment  of  the  people  was  attri- 
buted to  them,  and  was  the  source  of  their  unspeak- 
able sufferings.  They  were  in  the  sad  position  of 
being  compelled  to  make  themselves  and  others 

This  miserable  condition  of  the  Alsatian  Jews  a 
villainous  man  sought  to  turn  to  his  own  advantage, 
and  he  almost  brought  on  a  sanguinary  persecution. 
A  lawyer,  not  without  brains  and  literary  culture, 
named  Hell,  belonging  to  a  poor  family,  and  ar- 
dently wishing  for  a  high  position,  being  acquainted 
with  the  devices  of  the  Jewish  usurers,  actually 
learned  the  Hebrew  language,  to  be  able  to  levy 
blackmail  on  them  without  fear  of  discovery.  He 
sent  threatening  letters  in  Hebrew,  saying  that 
they  would  inevitably  be  accused  of  usury  and  de- 
ception, if  they  did  not  supply  him  with  a  stated 
sum  of  money.  This  worthless  lawyer  afterwards 
became  district  judge  to  several  Alsatian  noblemen, 
and  thus  the  Jews  were  given  wholly  into  his  power. 
Those  who  did  not  satisfy  his  continually  increasing 
demands,  were  accused,  ill-treated,  and  condemned. 
Meantime  his  unjust  conduct  was  partially  exposed 
he  was  suspected,  and  this  excited  him  against  the 
Jews  of  Alsace.  He  devised  a  plan  to  arouse  fana- 
ticism against  them.  He  pointed  out  to  debtors  a 

350  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

way  to  escape  the  oppressive  debts  which  they 
owed  Jewish  money-lenders,  by  producing  false  re- 
ceipts as  for  payments  already  rendered.  Some  of 
his  creatures  traveled  through  Alsace,  and  wrote 
out  such  acquittances.  Conscientious  debtors  had 
their  scruples  silenced  by  the  clergy,  who  assured 
them  that  robbing  the  Jews  was  a  righteous  act. 
The  timid  were  pacified  by  a  rogue  especially  des- 
patched for  that  purpose,  who  distributed  orders 
and  crosses,  presumably  in  the  name  of  the  king,  to 
those  who  accepted  and  presented  the  false  receipts, 
and  were  ready  to  accuse  the  Jews  of  oppression 
and  duplicity.  Thus  a  menacing  feeling,  bordering 
on  actual  violence,  developed  against  the  Jews  of 
Alsace.  The  debtors  united  with  common  ruffians 
and  clergymen  to  implore  the  weak-minded  king 
Louis  XVI,  to  put  an  end  to  all  disturbances  by 
expelling  the  Jews  from  the  province.  To  crown 
his  work,  the  villainous  district  magistrate  strove 
to  exasperate  the  populace  against  them.  He 
composed  a  venomous  work  against  them  (1779), 
"  Observations  of  an  Alsatian  upon  the  Present 
Quarrels  of  the  Jews  of  Alsace,"  in  which  he  col- 
lected all  the  slanderous  accusations  against  Jews 
from  ancient  times,  in  order  to  present  a  repulsive 
picture  of  them,  and  expose  them  to  hatred  and  ex- 
termination. He  admitted  that  receipts  had  been 
forged,  but  this  was  in  consequence  of  the  decrees 
of  Providence,  to  whom  alone  vengeance  was  be- 
coming. They  hoped  by  these  means  to  avenge 
the  crucifixion  of  Jesus,  the  murder  of  God.  This 
district  judge  aimed  at  the  annihilation,  or,  at  least, 
the  expulsion  of  the  Jews.  But  the  spirit  of  tolera- 
tion had  acquired  sufficient  strength  to  prevent  the 
success  of  such  cunning  designs.  His  base  tricks 
were  revealed,  and,  at  the  command  of  the  king, 
Hell  was  imprisoned,  and  afterwards  banished  from 
Alsace.  A  decree  of  the  sovereign  ordered  (May, 
1780)  that  lawsuits  against  usurers  should  no  longer 


be  decided  by  the  district  courts  of  the  nobility,  but 
by  the  chief  councilor,  or  state  councilor  (Conseil 
Souverain)  of  Alsace. 

One  result  of  these  occurrences  was  that  the 
Alsatian  Jews  finally  roused  themselves,  and  ven- 
tured to  state  that  their  position  was  intolerable, 
and  to  entreat  relief  from  the  throne  of  the  gentle 
king  Louis  XVI.  Their  representatives  (Cerf 
Berr?)  drew  up  a  memorial  to  the  state  council 
upon  the  inhuman  laws  under  which  they  groaned, 
and  made  proposals  for  the  amelioration  of  their 
lot.  They  felt,  however,  that  this  memorial  should 
be  written  so  as  to  influence  public  opinion,  at  this 
time  almost  as  powerful  as  the  king  himself.  But 
in  their  midst  there  was  no  man  of  spirit  and  ability 
who  could  compose  a  fitting  description  of  their 

To  whom  could  they  turn  except  to  Mendelssohn, 
looked  upon  by  European  Jews  as  their  advocate 
and  powerful  supporter  in  distress  ?  To  him,  there- 
fore, the  Alsatian  Jews — or,  more  correctly,  their 
distinguished  representative  Cerf  Berr,  who  knew 
Mendelssohn — sent  the  material  with  the  request, 
to  give  the  necessary  polish  and  an  impressive 
form  to  their  petition.  Mendelssohn  had  neither 
the  leisure,  nor  perhaps  the  skill  to  carry  out  their 
request.  Fortunately,  he  had  found  a  new  friend 
and  admirer,  who,  by  knowledge  and  position,  was 
better  able  to  formulate  such  a  memorial.  Christ- 
ian William  Dohm  (b.  1751,  d.  1820),  owing  to  his 
thorough  knowledge  of  history,  had  shortly  before 
been  appointed  by  Frederick  the  Great — with  the 
title  of  military  councilor — to  superintend  the 
archives.  Like  all  ambitious  youths  and  men  who 
frequented  Berlin,  Dohm  had  sought  out  the  Jew- 
ish philosopher,  at  this  time  at  the  summit  of  his 
fame  ;  and  like  all  who  entered  his  circle  Dohm 
felt  himself  attracted  by  his  intellectuality,  gentle- 
ness, and  great  wisdom.  During  his  stay  in  Berlin 

352  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

he  was  a  regular  visitor  at  the  house  of  Mendels- 
sohn, who,  on  Saturday,  his  day  of  leisure,  always 
assembled  his  friends  around  him.  Every  cultivated 
Christian  who  came  in  contact  with  Mendelssohn 
was  pleasantly  attracted  by  him,  overcame  his  bias 
against  Jews,  and  experienced  mingled  admiration 
and  sympathy  for  a  race  that  had  endured  so  much 
suffering,  and  produced  such  a  personality.  Dohm 
had  already  thrown  aside  his  innate  or  acquired  an- 
tipathy against  Jews.  His  interest  in  mankind 
rested  not  upon  the  shifting  ground  of  Christian 
love,  but  upon  the  firm  soil  of  human  culture,  char- 
acteristic of  the  eighteenth  century,  and  included 
also  this  unhappy  people.  He  had  already  planned 
to  make  the  "history  of  the  Jewish  nation  since  the 
destruction  of  their  own  state "  the  subject  of  his 

Dohm  evinced  his  readiness  to  draw  up  the  mem- 
orial for  the  Alsatian  Jews  in  a  pleasing  form,  in 
conjunction  with  Mendelssohn.  Whilst  engaged  on 
this  task,  the  thought  struck  him  to  publish  a  plea, 
not  alone  for  protection  for  the  few,  but  on  behalf 
of  all  the  German  Jews,  who  suffered  under  similar 
oppression.  Thus  originated  his  never-to-be-for- 
gotten work,  "  Upon  the  Civil  Amelioration  of  the 
Condition  of  the  Jews"  (finished  August,  1781),  the 
first  step  towards  removing  the  heavy  yoke  from 
the  neck  of  the  Jews.  With  this  pamphlet,  like 
Lessing  with  his  "  Nathan,"  Dohm  partly  atoned  for 
the  guilt  of  the  German  nation  in  enslaving  and  de- 
grading the  Jews.  Dohm's  apology  has  no  clerical 
tinge  about  it,  but  was  addressed  to  sober,  enlight- 
ened statesmen,  and  laid  particular  stress  upon  the 
political  advantages.  The  noble  philanthropist 
who  first  pleaded  for  the  emancipation  of  the  ne- 
groes had  fewer  difficulties  to  overcome  than  Dohm 
in  his  efforts  for  the  freedom  of  the  Jews.  The 
very  circumstances  that  ought  to  have  spoken  in 
their  favor,  their  intelligence  and  activity,  their 

CH.  viii.  DOHM'S  APOLOGY.  353 

mission  to  teach  Christian  nations  pure  doctrines 
on  God  and  morality,  their  ancient  nobility — all 
tended  to  their  detriment.  Their  intellectual  and 
energetic  habits  were  described  as  cunning  and 
love  of  gain  ;  their  insistence  upon  the  origin  of 
their  dogmas  as  presumption  and  infidelity,  and 
their  ancient  nobility  as  pride.  It  is  difficult  to 
over-estimate  the  heroism  required  to  speak  a  word 
on  their  behalf,  in  face  of  the  numerous  prejudices 
and  sentiments  against  the  Jews  prevailing  among 
all  classes  of  Christian  society. 

In  his  apology  Dohm,  as  already  noted,  omitted 
all  reference  to  the  religious  point  of  view,  and 
dwelt  solely  upon  the  political  and  economical 
aspect.  He  started  by  asserting  that  it  was  a  uni- 
versal conviction  that  the  welfare  of  states  depended 
upon  increase  of  population.  To  this  end  many 
governments  spent  large  sums  of  money  to  attract 
new  citizens  from  foreign  countries.  An  exception 
was  made  only  in  the  case  of  Jews.  "  Almost  in  all 
parts  of  Europe  the  tendency  of  the  laws  and  the 
whole  constitution  of  the  state  is  to  prevent,  as  far 
as  possible,  the  increase  of  these  unfortunate  Asiatic 
refugees.  Residence  is  either  denied  them,  or 
granted,  at  a  fixed  sum,  for  a  short  time.  A  large 
proportion  of  Jews  thus  find  the  gates  of  every  town 
closed  against  them  ;  they  are  inhumanly  driven 
away  from  every  border,  and  nothing  is  left  to  them 
except  to  starve,  or  to  save  themselves  from  starva- 
tion by  crime.  Every  guild  would  think  itself  dis- 
honored by  admitting  a  Jew  as  a  member  ;  therefore, 
in  almost  every  country,  the  Hebrews  are  debarred 
from  handicrafts  and  mechanical  arts.  Only  men 
of  rare  genius,  amidst  such  oppressive  circumstances, 
retain  courage  and  serenity  to  devote  themselves  to 
the  fine  arts  and  the  sciences.  Even  the  rare  men 
who  attain  to  a  high  degree  of  excellence,  as  well  as 
those  who  are  an  honor  to  mankind  through  their 
irreproachable  righteousness,  meet  with  respect  only 

354  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

from  a  few  ;  with  the  majority  the  most  distinguished 
merits  of  soul  and  heart  can  never  atone  for  the 
error  of  '  being  a  Jew.'  What  reasons  can  have  in- 
duced the  governments  of  European  states  to  be  so 
unanimous  in  this  attitude  towards  the  Jewish 
nation  ? "  asked  Dohm.  Is  it  possible  that  indus- 
trious and  good  citizens  are  less  useful  to  the  state, 
because  they  originally  came  from  Asia,  and  are  dis- 
tinguished by  a  beard,  by  circumcision,  and  their 
form  of  worship  ?  If  the  Jewish  religion  contained 
harmful  principles,  then  the  exclusion  of  its  adherents 
and  the  contempt  felt  for  them  would  be  justified  ; 
but  that  is  not  the  case.  "  The  mob,  which  considers 
itself  at  liberty  to  deceive  a  Jew,  falsely  asserts  that, 
by  his  law,  he  is  permitted  to  cheat  the  adherents 
of  another  creed,  and  persecuting  priests  have  spread 
stories  of  the  prejudices  felt  by  the  Jews,  and  thus 
revealed  their  own.  The  chief  book  of  the  Jews, 
the  Law  of  Moses,  is  regarded  with  reverence  also 
by  Christians." 

Dohm  reviewed  the  history  of  the  Jews  in  Europe 
— how,  in  the  first  centuries,  they  had  enjoyed  full 
civil  rights  in  the  Roman  Empire,  and  must  have 
been  considered  worthy  of  such  privileges — how 
they  were  degraded  and  deprived  of  their  rights, 
first  by  the  Byzantines,  then  by  the  German  bar- 
barians, especially  by  the  Visigoths  in  Spain.  From 
the  Roman  Empire  the  Jews  had  brought  more  cul- 
ture than  the  dominant  nations  possessed ;  they 
were  not  brutalized  by  savage  feuds,  nor  was  their 
progress  retarded  by  monkish  philosophy  and  super- 
stition. In  Spain  amongst  Jews  and  Arabs  there 
had  existed  a  more  remarkable  culture  than  in 
Christian  Europe.  Dohm  then  reviewed  the  false 
accusations  and  persecutions  against  Jews  in  the 
Middle  Ages,  painting  the  Christians  as  cruel  bar- 
barians and  the  Jews  as  illustrious  martyrs.  After 
touching  upon  the  condition  of  the  Jews  in  the 
various  states,  he  concluded  his  delineation  with  the 
words  : 

CH.   VIII.  DOHM  S    PROGRAMME.  355 

"These  principles  of  exclusion,  equally  opposed  to  humanity  and 
politics,  which  bear  the  impress  of  the  dark  centuries,  are  unworthy 
of  the  enlightenment  of  our  times,  and  deserve  no  longer  to  be  fol- 
lowed. It  is  possible  that  some  errors  have  become  so  deeply  rooted 
that  they  will  disappear  only  in  the  third  or  fourth  generation.  But 
this  is  no  argument  against  beginning  to  reform  now  ;  because, 
without  such  beginning,  a  better  generation  can  never  appear." 

Dohm  suggested  a  plan  whereby  the  amelioration 
of  the  condition  of  the  Jews  might  be  facilitated,  and 
his  proposals  formed  a  programme  for  the  future. 
In  the  first  place,  they  were  to  receive  equal  rights 
with  all  other  subjects.  In  particular,  liberty  of  oc- 
cupation and  in  procuring  a  livelihood  should  be 
conceded  them,  so  that,  by  wise  precautions,  they 
would  be  drawn  away  from  petty  trading  and  usury, 
and  be  attracted  to  handicrafts,  agriculture,  arts,  and 
sciences,  all  without  compulsion.  The  moral  eleva- 
tion of  the  Jews  was  to  be  promoted  by  the  founda- 
tion of  good  schools  of  their  own,  or  by  the  admis- 
sion of  their  youth  into  Christian  schools,  and  by  the 
elevation  of  adults  in  the  Jewish  Houses  of  Prayer. 
But  it  should  also  be  impressed  upon  Christians, 
through  sermons  and  other  effectual  means,  that 
they  were  to  regard  and  treat  the  Jews  as  brothers 
and  fellow-men.  As  a  matter  of  course,  Dohm  de- 
sired to  see  freedom  in  their  private  religious  affairs 
granted  them :  free  exercise  of  religion,  the  estab- 
lishment of  synagogues,  the  appointment  of  teachers, 
maintenance  of  their  poor,  if  considered  wise,  under 
the  supervision  of  the  government.  Even  the 
power  of  excluding  refractory  members  from  the 
community  should  be  given  them.  Dohm,  more- 
over, pleaded  for  the  continuance,  under  certain  re- 
strictions, of  independent  jurisdiction  in  cases  be- 
tween Jews,  the  power  to  be  vested  in  a  tribunal  of 
rabbis.  He  wished  to  debar  them  from  only  one 
privilege,  from  filling  public  offices,  or  entering  the; 
arena  of  politics.  The  ability  to  undertake  these- 
duties,  he  thought,  was  completely  lacking  in  that 
generation,  and  would  not  manifest  itself  very  con- 

356  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

spicuously  in  the  next.  Besides  there  was  a  super- 
abundance rather  than  a  lack  of  competent  state 
officers.  For  this  reason,  it  would,  for  the  present, 
be  better  both  for  the  state  and  the  Jews,  if  they 
worked  in  warehouses  and  behind  the  plough  rather 
than  in  state  offices.  The  immediate  future  dis- 
proved his  doubts. 

Dohm  foresaw  that  his  programme  for  the  eman- 
cipation  of  the  Jews  would  meet  with  violent  and 
stubborn  opposition  from  the  clergy  and  the  theol- 
ogical   school.       He  therefore  submitted  it  to  the 
"wisdom  of  the  governments,"  who  at   this   time 
were  more  inclined  to  progress  and  enlightenment 
than  the  people.     Dohm  was  filled  with  the  serious- 
ness and  importance  of  his  task ;  he  was  positive 
that  his  proposals  would  lay  the  basis  not  only  for 
the   welfare  of  the  Jews,  but  also   for  that  of  the 
states.     It  is  not  to  be  overlooked  that  Mendels- 
sohn stood  behind  him.     Even  if  he  did  not  dictate 
the  words,  yet  he  breathed  into  them  his  spirit  of 
gentleness    and    love    of  mankind,    and    illumined 
the  points  which  were  strange  and  dark  to  Dohm, 
the  Christian  and  political  writer.     Mendelssohn  is, 
therefore,  to  be  looked  upon,  if  not  as  the  father, 
certainly  as  the  godfather,  of  Dohm's  work. 

It  was  inevitable  for  such  a  treatise  to  create 
great  excitement  in  Germany.  Must  not  this  de- 
mand to  treat  Jews  as  equals  have  appeared  to 
respectable  Christians  as  a  monstrous  thing ;  as  if 
the  nobility  had  been  asked  to  place  themselves  at 
the  same  table  with  their  slaves  ?  Soon  after  its 
appearance,  Dohm's  work  advocating  Jewish  eman- 
cipation became  extraordinarily  popular ;  it  was 
read,  discussed,  criticised,  and  refuted  by  many, 
and  approved  by  only  a  few.  The  first  rumor  was 
that  Dohm  had  sold  his  pen  to  the  Jews  for  a  very 
high  price,  although  he  had  specially  entreated  pro- 
tection for  the  poor  homeless  peddlers.  Fortune 
began  to  smile  upon  the  Jews  after  having  turned 

CH.  viii.  JOSEPH  ii.  357 

its  back  upon  them  for  so  many  centuries.  Scarcely 
had  the  pamphlet  appeared,  when  Emperor  Joseph, 
the  first  Austrian  ruler  to  allow  himself  in  some 
degree  to  be  guided  by  moral  and  humane  princi- 
ples, having  snapt  asunder  the  yoke  of  the  Catholic 
Church,  and  having  accorded  a  Toleration  Edict  to 
the  Protestants,  issued  a  series  of  laws  relating  to 
the  Jews,  which  displayed  sincere  if  rather  fierce 

By  this  new  departure  (October  19,  1781),  the 
Jews  were  permitted  to  learn  handicrafts,  arts,  and 
sciences,  and  with  certain  restrictions  to  devote 
themselves  to  agriculture.  The  doors  of  the  uni- 
versities and  academies,  hitherto  closed  to  them, 
were  thrown  open.  The  education  of  the  Jewish 
youth  was  a  matter  of  great  interest  to  this  em- 
peror, who  promoted  "philosophical  morality."  He 
accordingly  decreed  the  establishment  of  Jewish 
primary  and  high  schools  (normal  schools),  and 
forced  adults  to  learn  the  language  of  the  country, 
by  decreeing  that  in  future  only  documents  written 
in  that  language  would  possess  legal  force.  He 
considerately  removed  the  risk  of  all  possible  at- 
tempts at  religious  compulsion.  In  the  schools 
everything  that  might  be  offensive  to  any  creed  was 
to  be  omitted  from  the  curriculum.  An  ordinance 
enjoined  (November  2)  that  the  Jews  were  to  be 
everywhere  considered  "fellow-men,"  and  all  ex- 
cesses against  them  were  to  be  avoided.  The 
Leibzoll  (body-tax),  more  humiliating  to  Christians 
than  to  Jews,  was  also  abolished  by  Joseph  II  of 
glorious  memory,  in  addition  to  the  special  law- 
taxes,  the  passport-duty,  the  night-duty,  and  all 
similar  oppressive  imposts  which  had  stamped  the 
Jews  as  outcasts,  for  they  were  now  to  have  equal 
rights  with  the  Christian  inhabitants  (December  19). 
Joseph  II  did  not  intend  to  concede  complete  citi- 
zenship to  the  Jews  ;  they  were  still  forbidden  to 
reside  in  those  cities  whence  Christian  intolerance 

358  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

had  hitherto  banished  them.  Even  in  Vienna  Jews 
were  allowed  to  dwell  only  in  a  few  exceptional 
cases,  on  payment  'of  protection-money  (toleration- 
tax),  which  protection  did  not  extend  to  their 
grown-up  sons.  They  were  not  suffered  to  have  a 
single  public  synagogue  in  Vienna.  But  Joseph  II 
annulled  a  number  of  vexatious,  restrictive  regula- 
tions, such  as  the  compulsory  wearing  of  beards, 
the  prohibition  against  going  out  in  the  forenoon  on 
Sundays  and  holidays,  or  frequenting  public  pleas- 
ure resorts.  The  emperor  even  permitted  Jewish 
wholesale  merchants,  notables,  and  their  sons,  to 
wear  swords  (January  2,  1782),  and  especially  insis- 
ted that  Christians  should  behave  in  a  friendly 
manner  towards  Jews. 

A  notable  beginning  was  thus  made.  The  ig- 
nominy of  a  thousand  years,  which  the  uncharita- 
bleness  of  the  Church,  the  avarice  of  princes,  and 
the  brutality  of  nations,  had  cast  upon  the  race  of 
Judah,  was  now  partly  removed,  at  least  in  one 
country.  Dohm's  proposals  in  consequence  met 
with  earnest  consideration ;  they  were  not  regarded 
as  ideal  dreams,  but  as  political  principles  worthy  of 
attention.  Scholars,  clergymen,  statesmen,  and 
princes  began  to  interest  themselves  seriously  in 
the  Jewish  question.  Every  thoughtful  person  in 
Germany  and  elsewhere  took  one  side  or  the  other. 
Various  opinions  and  ideas  were  aired ;  the  most 
curious  propositions  were  made.  A  preacher, 
named  Schwager,  wrote : 

"  I  have  always  been  averse  to  hating  an  unfortunate  nation,  be- 
cause it  worships  God  in  another  way.  I  have  always  lamented  that 
we  have  driven  the  Jews  to  deceive  us  by  an  oppressive  political 
yoke.  For,  what  else  can  they  do,  in  order  to  live  ?  in  what  other 
way  can  they  defray  their  heavy  taxes  ?  " 

Diez,  Dohm's  excellent  friend,  one  of  the  noblest 
men  of  that  epoch,  afterwards  Prussian  ambassador 
to  the  Turkish  court,  thought  that  Dohm  had  asked 
far  too  little  for  the  Jews. 


"You  aver  most  truly,"  he  remarked,  "that  the  present  moral  de- 
pravity of  the  Jews  is  a  consequence  of  their  bondage.  But  to  color 
the  picture,  and  weaken  the  reproaches  leveled  at  the  Jews,  a  repre- 
sentation of  the  moral  depravity  of  the  Christians  would  have  been 
useful;  certainly  it  is  not  less  than  that  of  the  Jews,  and  rather  the 
cause  of  the  latter." 

John  von  Miiller,  the  talented  historian  of  the 
Swiss,  with  his  wide  attainments  in  general  history, 
also  admired  the  glorious  antiquity  of  the  Jews, 
praised  Dohm's  efforts  on  behalf  of  the  Jews,  and 
supplied  him  from  the  treasures  of  his  knowledge 
with  new  proofs  of  the  unjust  and  pitiless  persecu- 
tion of  the  mediaeval  Jews,  and  their  demoralization 
by  intolerable  tyranny.  He  wished  the  writings  of 
Maimuni,  "  the  Luther  of  the  Jews,"  to  be  translated 
into  one  of  the  European  languages. 

Naturally,  hostile  pamphlets  were  not  wanting. 
Especially  noteworthy  was  an  abusive  tract,  pub- 
lished in  Prague,  entitled  "  Upon  the  Inutility  of  the 
Jews  in  the  Kingdoms  of  Bohemia  and  Moravia,"  in 
which  the  author  indulged  in  common  insults 


against  the  Jews,  and  revived  all  the  charges  of 
poisoning  wells,  sedition,  and  other  pretexts  for 
their  expulsion.  This  scurrilous  work  was  so  vio- 
lent, that  Emperor  Joseph  forbade  its  circulation 
(March  2,  1782).  A  bitter  opponent  of  the  Jews  at 
this  time  was  Frederick  Traugott  Hartmann.  And 
why?  Because  he  had  been  cheated  out  of  a  few 
pennies  by  Jewish  hawkers.  On  account  of  their 
venomous  tone,  however,  these  writings  harmed  the 
Jews  less  than  those  of  the  German  pedants. 

To  these  belonged  a  famous  scholar  of  authority, 
John  David  Michaelis,  the  aged  professor  at  (.ot- 
tingen.  His  range  of  vision  had  been  widened  by 
travels  and  observation,  and  he  had  cut  himself 
adrift  from  the  narrowness  of  Lutheran  theology. 
Michaelis  was  the  founder  of  the  rationalist  school 
of  theologians,  who  resolved  the  miracles  and  the; 
sublimity  of  the  Holy  Scriptures  into  simple  natural 
facts.  Through  his  "Mosaic  Law,"  and  cultivation 

360  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

of  Hebrew  grammar  and  exegesis,  he  gained  high 
repute.  But  Michaelis  had  exactly  that  proportion 
of  unbelief  and  belief  which  made  him  hate  the  Jews 
as  the  bearers  of  revealed  religion  and  a  miraculous 
history,  and  despise  them  as  antagonists  of  Chris- 
tianity. '  A  Jewish  officer  in  the  French  army,  when 
it  was  stationed  in  Gottingen,  had  given  but  a 
orudofinof  salut;e  jn  return  for  the  slavish  obeisances 

&  c>         c> 

of  the  professors,  which  they  held  as  due  to  every 
Frenchman.  This  was  ground  enough  for  Michaelis 
to  abominate  the  Jews  one  and  all,  and  to  affirm 
that  they  were  of  despicable  character.  Michaelis 
had  several  years  before  remarked,  on  the  appear- 
ance of  Lessing's  drama  "  The  Jew,"  "  that  a  noble 
Jew  was  a  poetic  impossibility."  Experience  had 
disproved  this  assertion  through  Mendelssohn  am: 
other  persons  ;  but  a  German  professor  cannot  be 
mistaken.  Michaelis  adhered  to  his  opinion  that  the 
Jews  were  an  incorrigible  race.  Now  he  condemned 
the  Jews  from  a  theological  point  of  view,  now  from 
political  considerations.  It  is  hard  to  say  whether 
it  is  to  be  called  insensibility,  intellectual  dullness, 
or  malice,  when  Michaelis  blurts  out  with  : 

"  It  seems  to  me,  that  herein  Germany  they  (the  Jews)  already  have 
everything  that  they  could  possibly  desire,  and  I  do  not  know  what  he 
(Dohm)  wishes  to  add  thereto.  Medicine,  philosophy,  physics,  math- 
ematics, they  are  not  excluded  from, — and  he  himself  does  not  wish 
them  to  have  offices." 

He  even  defended  the  taking  of  protection-money 
from  the  Jews. 

It  cannot  be  said  that  the  anti-Jewish  treatise  of 
Michaelis  injured  them  at  the  time,  for  in  no  case 
would  the  German  princes  and  people  have  eman- 
cipated them,  had  not  the  imperious  progress  of 
history  compelled  it.  But  in  after  years  Michaelis 
was  employed  as  an  authority  against  the  Jews.  The 
agitation  excited  by  Dohm,  and  the  views  pro  and 
con  had  only  resulted  in  forming  public  opinion 
upon  Judaism,  and  this  affected  not  Germany,  but 

CH.   VIII,       MENDELSSOHN    AND    THE    JEWISH    QUESTION.        361 

France.  Miraculous  concatenation  of  historical 
events  !  The  venomous  Alsatian  district  judge 
wished  to  have  the  Jews  of  Alsace  annihilated,  and 
through  his  malice  he  actually  facilitated  the  libera- 
tion of  the  Jews  in  France. 

Mendelssohn  prudently  kept  himself  in  the  back- 
ground in  this  movement  :  he  did  not  desire  to 
have  attention  drawn  to  him  as  a  prejudiced  de- 
fender of  his  brethren  in  religion  and  race.  He 
blessed  the  outbreak  of  interest  in  his  unhappy 

"Blessed  be  Almighty  Providence  that  has  allowed  me,  at  the  end 
of  my  days,  to  seethe  happy  time,  when  the  rights  of  humanity  begin 
to  be  realized  in  their  true  extent." 

However,  two  things  induced  him  to  break  silence. 
He  found  that  the  arrows  hurled  by  Dohm  had  been 
insufficient  to  pierce  the  thick-skinned  monster  of 

"  Reason  and  humanity  have  raised  their  voices  in  vain,  for  grey- 
headed prejudice  is  deaf." 

Dohm  himself  did  not  appear  to  him  to  be  free 
from  the  general  prejudice,  because  he  admitted  that 
the  Jews  of  the  present  day  were  depraved,  useless, 
even  harmful ;  therefore  he  suggested  means  to  im- 
prove them.  But  Mendelssohn,  who  knew  his  co- 
religionists better,  did  not  find  them  so  greatly  in- 
fected with  moral  leprosy — or  differing  so  widely 
from  Christians  of  the  same  class  and  trade — as  ar- 
rogant Christians  in  their  self-glorification  were  wont 
to  assert.  In  a  very  clever  way  Mendelssohn  made 
not  alone  the  Gottingen  scholars  Michaelis  and 
Hartmann,  but  also  Dohm,  understand  that  they  had 
misconceived  the  Jewish  question. 

"It  is  wonderful  to  note  how  prejudice  assumes  the  forms  of  every 
century  in  order  to  act  despotically  towards  us,  and  place  difficulties 
in  the  way  of  our  obtaining  civil  rights.  In  superstitious  ages  we 
were  said  to  insult  sacred  objects  out  of  mere  wantonness  ;  to  pierce 
crucifixes  and  cause  them  to  bleed  ;  secretly  to  circumcise  cliildri-n 

362  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

and  stab  them  in  order  to  feast  our  eyes  upon  the  sight;  to  draw 
Christian  blood  for  our  Passover  ;  to  poison  wells. 

"  Now  times  have  changed,  calumny  no  longer  makes  the  desired 
impression.     Now  we,  in  turn,  are  upbraided  with  superstition  and 
ignorance,  lack  of  moral  sentiments,  taste,  and  refined  manners,  in- 
capacity for  the  arts,  sciences,  and  useful  pursuits,  especially  for  the 
service  of  war  and  the  state,  invincible  inclination  to  cheating,  usury, 
and  lawlessness;  all  these  have  taken  the  place  of  coarse  indictments 
against  us,  to  exclude  us  from  the  number  of  useful  citizens,  and  re- 
ject us  from  the  motherly  bosom  of  the  state.    They  tie  our  hands,  and 
reproach   us  that   we   do   not  use  them.  .....  Reason   and  the 

spirit  of  research  of  our  century  have  not  yet  wiped  away  all  traces 
of  barbarism  in  history.  Many  a  legend  of  the  past  has  obtained 
credit,  because  it  has  not  occurred  to  any  one  to  cast  doubts  upon  it. 
Some  are  supported  by  such  important  authorities  that  few  have  the 
boldness  to  look  upon  them  as  legends  and  libels.  Even  at  the  pres- 
ent moment  there  is  many  a  city  of  Germany  where  no  circumcised 
person,  even  though  he  pays  duty  for  his  creed,  is  allowed  to  issue 
forth  in  open  daylight  unwatched,  lest  he  kidnap  a  Christian  child  or 
poison  the  wells;  while  during  the  night  he  is  not  trusted  under  the 
strictest  surveillance,  owing  to  his  well-known  intercourse  with  evil 

The  second  point  in  Dohm's  memoir  which  did 
not  please  Mendelssohn  was,  that  it  demanded  the 
recognition  of  the  state  for  the  Jewish  religion,  inas- 
much as  the  government  was  to  grant  it  the  right 
of  excluding  unruly  members  by  a  sort  of  excom- 
munication. This  did  not  harmonize  with  his  con- 
ception of  a  pure  religion.  In  order  to  counteract 
the  errors  of  Dohm's  well-meant  apology,  and  the 
obstinate  misapprehension  of  the  Jews  as  much  as 
possible,  Mendelssohn  caused  one  of  his  young 
friends,  the  physician  Marcus  Herz,  to  translate 
from  the  English  original  the  "Vindicioe  Judaeorum" 
of  Manasseh  ben  Israel  against  the  numerous  slan- 
derous charges  brought  against  them.  He  himself 
wrote  a  preface  full  of  luminous,  glowing  thoughts 
(March,  1782),  called  "The  Salvation  of  the  Jews," 
as  an  appendix  to  Dohm's  work.  Manasseh's  Apol- 
ogy was  buried  in  a  book  little  read  ;  Mendelssohn 
made  its  excellent  truths  known  among  the  cultured 
classes,  and  by  a  correct  elucidation  gave  them 
proper  emphasis.  In  this  preface  he  insisted,  that 
while  the  church  arrogates  the  right  of  inflicting 
punishment  upon  its  followers,  religion,  the  true 


faith,  based  upon  reason  and  love  of  humanity,  "  re- 
quires neither  an  arm  nor  a  finger  for  its  purpose  ; 
it  concerns  only  the  spirit  and  the  heart.  Moreover 
it  does  not  drive  sinners  and  renegades  from  its 
doors."  Without  knowing  the  whole  extent  of  the 
harm  caused  by  it  in  the  course  of  Jewish  history, 
Mendelssohn  detested  the  interdicting  power.  He 
therefore  adjured  the  rabbis  and  elders  to  give  up 
their  right  of  excommunicating. 

"  Alas  !  my  brethren,  you  have  felt  the  oppressive  yoke  of  intoler- 
ance only  too  severely  ;  all  the  nations  of  the  earth  seem  hitherto  to 
have  been  deluded  by  the  idea  that  religion  can  be  maintained  only  by 
an  iron  hand.  You,  perhaps,  have  suffered  yourselves  to  be  misled 
into  thinking  the  same.  Oh,  my  brethren,  follow  the  example  of  love, 
as  you  have  till  now  followed  that  of  hatred ! " 

Mendelssohn  now  held  so  high  a  position  in  pub- 
i-         •   •         i  i  ,.      v  L 

lie  opinion,  that  every  new  publication  bearing  his 

name  was  eagerly  read.  The  fundamental  thought 
of  the  preface  to  Manasseh  ben  Israel's  "Vindica- 
tion," that  religion  has  no  rights  over  its  followers 
and  must  not  resort  to  compulsory  measures,  struck 
its  readers  with  astonishment.  This  had  never  oc- 
curred to  any  Christian  believer.  Enlightened 
Christian  clergymen,  such  as  Teller,  Spalding,  Zolli- 
kofer,  and  others,  gradually  fell  in  with  the  new  idea, 
and  tendered  its  originator  public  applause.  Bigoted 
clerics  and  obdurate  minds,  on  the  other  hand,  be- 
held therein  the  destruction  of  religion.  "All  this 


is  new  and  difficult ;  first  principles  are  denied," 
said  they.  In  Jewish  circles  also  many  objections 
were  made  to  Mendelssohn's  view.  It  seemed  as 
if  he  had  suddenly  discarded  Judaism,  which  cer- 
tainly owns  an  elaborate  system  of  penalties  for  re- 
ligious crimes  and  transgressions.  From  the  Chris- 
tian camp  a  pamphlet  called  "  Inquiry  into  Light  and 
Truth "  was  launched  against  him,  which  asserted 
that  he  had  finally  dropped  his  mask  ;  that  he  had 
embraced  the  religion  of  love,  and  turned  his  back 
upon  his  native  faith,  which  execrates  and  punishes. 

364  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

A  second  time  Mendelssohn  was  compelled  to 
emerge  from  his  retirement,  and  give  his  views  upon 
religion.  This  he  did  in  a  work  entitled  "  Jerusa- 
lem," or  "Upon  Ecclesiastical  Power  and  Judaism" 
(spring,  1783),  whose  purity  of  contents  and 
form  is  a  memorial  of  his  lofty  genius.  The  gen- 
tleness that  breathes  through  this  book,  the 
warmth  of  conviction,  the  frankness  of  utterance,  its 
child-like  ingenuousness,  yet  profoundly  thoughtful 
train  of  ideas,  the  graceful  style  which  renders  even 
dry  discussion  enjoyable — all  these  qualities  earned 
contemporary  approval  for  this  work,  and  will  always 
assure  it  a  place  in  literature.  At  the  time  it  excited 
great  surprise.  It  had  been  believed,  that,  owing 
to  his  ideas  upon  religion  and  Judaism,  Mendels- 
sohn, if  he  had  not  entirely  broken  away  from  Juda- 
ism, had  yet  declared  many  things  therein  to  be 
worthless.  He  now  showed  that  he  was  an  ardent 
Jew,  and  would  not  yield  a  tittle  of  existing  Judaism, 
either  rabbinical  or  biblical  ;  that  he,  in  fact,  claimed 
the  highest  privileges  for  it.  All  this  was  in  accord 
with  his  peculiar  method  of  thought. 

Judaism  recognizes  the  freedom  of  religious  con- 
victions. Original,  pure  Judaism,  therefore,  contains 
no  binding  articles  of  belief,  no  symbolical  books,  by 
which  the  faithful  were  compelled  to  swear  and 
affirm  their  incumbent  duty.  Judaism  prescribes 
not  faith,  but  knowledge,  and  it  urges  that  its  doc- 
trines be  taken  to  heart.  In  this  despised  religion 
everyone  may  think,  opine,  and  err  as  he  pleases, 
without  incurring  the  guilt  of  heresy.  Its  right  of 
inflicting  punishment  begins  only  when  evil  thoughts 
become  acts.  Why  ?  Because  Judaism  is  not  re- 
vealed religion,  but  revealed  legislation.  Its  first 
precept  is  not,  "  thou  shalt  believe  or  not  believe," 
but,  "  thou  shalt  do  or  abstain  from  doing." 

"  In  the  divinely-ordained  constitution,  state  and  religion  are  one. 
Not  unbelief,  false  teaching,  and  error,  but  wicked  offenses  against 
the  principles  of  the  state  and  the  national  constitution  are  chastised. 

CH.  vin.  "JERUSALEM."  365 

With  the  destruction  of  the  Temple,  /.  e.,  with  the  downfall  of  the 
state,  all  corporal  and  capital  punishment,  as  well  as  money  fines, 
ceased.  The  national  bonds  were  dissolved  ;  religious  trespasses 
were  no  longer  crimes  against  the  state,  and  religion,  as  such,  Knows 
no  punishments." 

For  those  who  seriously  or  jestingly  had  reported 
that  Mendelssohn  had  separated  from  Judaism,  he 
laid  stress  upon  two  points  not  wholly  germane  to 
his  subject,  viz.,  that  the  so-called  ceremonial  law 
of  Judaism  is  likewise,  indeed  particularly,  of  divine 
origin,  and  that  its  obligatory  character  must  con- 
tinue "  until  it  pleases  the  Supreme  to  abrogate  it  as 
plainly  and  publicly  as  it  was  revealed." 

The  effect  of  this  detailed  apology  was  greater 
than  Mendelssohn  could  have  expected.  Instead 
of  defending  himself  he  had  come  forward  as  an 
accuser,  and  in  a  manner  at  once  gentle  and  forcible 
he  had  laid  bare  the  hateful  ulcers  of  the  church  and 
state  constitution.  Two  authoritative  representa- 
tives of  the  age  pronounced  flattering  opinions  upon 
him  and  the  subject  which  he  was  discussing.  Kant, 
who  had  already  testified  to  his  greatness  of  thought, 
wrote  that  he  had  read  "Jerusalem  "  with  admiration 
for  its  keenness  of  argument,  its  refinement,  and 
cleverness  of  composition. 

"  I  consider  this  book  the  herald  of  a  great  reform,  which  will 
affect  not  alone  your  nation,  but  also  others.  You  have  succeeded 
in  combining  your  religion  with  such  a  degree  of  freedom  of  con- 
science as  was  never  imagined  possible,  and  of  which  no  other  faith 
can  boast.  You  have,  at  the  same  time,  so  thoroughly  and  clearly 
demonstrated  the  necessity  of  unlimited  liberty  of  conscience  in  every 
religion,  that  ultimately  our  Church  will  also  be  led  to  reflect  how  to 
remove  from  its  midst  everything  that  disturbs  and  oppresses  con- 
science, which  will  finally  unite  all  men  in  their  view  of  the  essential 
points  of  religion." 

Michaelis,  the  rationalistic  anti-Semite,  stood  baf- 
fled, embarrassed,  and  ashamed  before  the  bold 
ideas  of  the  "Jerusalem."  Judaism,  which  he  had 
scornfully  disdained,  now  fearlessly  and  victoriously 
raised  its  head.  The  Jew  Mendelssohn,  whom  he 
would  not  have  trusted  with  a  penny,  appeared  the 

366  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

incarnation  of  conscientiousness  and  wisdom. 
Michaelis  was  sorely  perplexed  in  passing  judg- 
ment upon  this  remarkable  work.  He  was  obliged 
to  admit  many  things.  Thus,  without  selfish  mo- 
tives, impelled  only  by  circumstances,  Mendelssohn 
glorified  Judaism,  and  shook  off  disgrace  from  his 
people.  In  the  meantime  Dohm  was  aiding  him. 
He  continued  to  expound  Judaism  in  the  most  fav- 
orable light,  and  refute  all  objections,  the  honest  as 
well  as  the  malicious  ones  ;  he  had  come  to  regard 
the  quarrel  as  his  own.  But  Dohm  effected  most 
by  enlisting  through  his  writings  in  favor  of  Jews 
the  sympathies  of  Mirabeau,  a  man  with  shoulders 
strong  enough  to  bear  a  new  system  of  the  world, 
and  he  continued  the  work  of  Dohm. 

At  the  same  time,  and  in  the  same  way,  that  is, 
indirectly,  Mendelssohn  again  urged  the  internal 
rejuvenescence  of  the  Jews,  which  was  to  accom- 
pany their  emancipation.  From  modesty  or  dis- 
cretion, he  would  not  come  to  the  front ;  he  had 
stimulated  Dohm  to  do  battle  for  their  emancipa- 
tion, and  for  their  regeneration  he  brought  forward 
another  friend,  who  appeared  born  for  the  task. 
Owing  to  Mendelssohn,  Wessely  became  a  histor- 
ical personage,  who  worked  with  all  his  energy  for 
the  improvement  of  the  Jews,  completing  the  de- 
ficiency of  Mendelssohn's  retiring  character.  Hart- 
wig  (Hartog,  Naphtali-Herz)  Wessely  (born  in 
Hamburg,  1725  ;  died  in  the  same  town,  1805)  was 
of  a  peculiar  disposition,  combining  elements  not 
often  associated.  His  grandfather  had  established 
a  manufactory  for  arms  in  Holstein,  and  had  been  a 
commercial  councilor  and  royal  resident.  His 
father  also  conducted  an  important  business,  and 
had  frequent  intercourse  with  so-called  great  peo- 
ple. In  this  way  Hartwig  Wessely  came  with  his 
father  to  Copenhagen,  where  a  Portuguese  congre- 
gation, and  also  a  few  German  Jews  had  settled. 
His  early  education  was  the  same  as  that  of  most 


boys  of  that  time  ;  he  learnt  to  read  Hebrew 
mechanically,  and  to  mis-translate  the  Bible,  to  be 
launched,  a  boy  of  nine,  into  the  labyrinth  of  the 
Talmud.  But  a  traveling  grammarian,  Solomon 
Hanau,  promoted  the  development  of  the  germs 
within  him,  and  inspired  him  with  love  for  the 
Hebrew  language.  His  labor  was  not  in  vain. 
The  seed  sown  by  Hanau  was  to  bear  thousand-fold 
fruit.  Wessely's  chief  interest  was  the  study  of  the 
Holy  Writings  in  the  original  tongue  ;  it  was  the 
aim  of  his  life  to  understand  them  from  all  points  of 
view.  Owing  to  his  father's  frequent  contact  with 
non-Jewish  circles,  in  the  course  of  business, 
Wessely  obtained  an  insight  into  actual  life,  and 
absorbed  other  branches  of  knowledge,  the  modern 
languages,  geography,  history,  descriptions  of  trav- 
els. These  only  served  as  auxiliary  sciences  to  be 
employed  in  his  special  study  of  the  Scriptures,  and 
by  their  means  to  penetrate  deeper  into  their 
thought  and  spirit.  Like  Mendelssohn,  Wessely 
was  self-taught.  Very  early  he  developed  taste,  a 
sense  for  beauty,  feeling  for  purity  of  speech  and 
form,  and  repugnance  to  the  mixed  dialects  and  the 
jargon  commonly  used  among  German  Jews. 

Wessely  again  resembled  Mendelssohn  in  char- 
acter, distinguished  as  he  was  by  strict  conscien- 
tiousness and  elevated  feelings  of  honor.  In  him, 
too,  thoughts,  sentiments,  words,  and  deeds,  showed 
no  discrepancy.  He  was  of  deep,  pure  piety,  an 
unswerving  adherent  to  Judaism.  His  nature,  how- 
ever, did  not  display  the  gentle  pliancy  of  Mendels- 
sohn's. He  was  stiff  and  pedantic,  more  inclined  to 
juggle  with  words  and  split  hairs  than  to  think 
deeply,  and  he  had  no  correct  idea  of  the  action  of 
world-moving  forces.  All  his  life  Wessely  remain* -<1 
a  visionary,  and  saw  the  events  of  the  real  world 
through  colored  glasses.  In  one  way  Wessely  was 
apparently  superior  to  Mendelssohn  ;  he;  was  a 
poet.  In  reality,  however,  he  only  possessed  un- 

368  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

common  facility  and  skill  in  making  beautiful,  well- 
sounding  verses  of  blameless  refinement,  of  graceful 
symmetrical  smoothness,  and  accurate  construction. 
Wessely  was  greatly  charmed  by  the  laws  of 
Emperor  Joseph  in  favor  of  the  Jews,  especially  by 
the  command  to  erect  schools  ;  he  beheld  therein 
the  dawn  of  a  golden  age  for  the  Jews,  whilst  Men- 
delssohn, with  his  keen  perception,  from  the  first 
did  not  expect  great  results.  He  remarks,  "  It  is 
perhaps  only  a  passing  idea,  without  any  substance, 
or,  as  some  fear,  it  has  a  financial  purpose." 
Wessely,  however,  composed  a  glowing  hymn  of 
praise  to  the  noble  rule  and  the  magnanimity  of 
Emperor  Joseph.  As  soon  as  he  was  informed 
that  the  rigidly  orthodox  party  in  Vienna  regretted 
the  order  to  establish  schools  as  an  interference 
with  their  liberty  of  conscience,  he  addressed  a  He- 
brew letter  (March,  1782),  called  "Words  of  Peace 
and  Truth,"  to  the  Austrian  congregations,  exhort- 
ing them  to  welcome  it  as  a  benefit,  to  rejoice  in  it, 
and  at  once  execute  it.  He  explained  that  it  was  a 
religious  duty  of  the  Jews,  recommended  even  by 
the  Talmud,  to  acquire  general  culture,  that  the 
latter  must  even  precede  a  knowledge  of  religion, 
and  that  only  by  such  means  could  they  remove  the 
disgrace  which,  owing  to  their  ignorance,  had 
weighed  upon  them  for  so  long  a  time.  Wessely 
emphasized  the  necessity  of  banishing  the  barbarous 
jargon  from  the  midst  of  the  Jews,  and  of  cultivating 
a  pure,  euphonious  language.  He  sketched  a  plan 
of  instruction  in  his  letter,  showing  how  the  Jewish 
youth  should  be  led,  step  by  step,  from  elementary 
subjects  to  the  study  of  the  Talmud.  This  letter, 
written  with  fervor,  impressive  eloquence,  and  in  a 
beautiful  Hebrew  style,  could  not  have  failed  to 
produce  great  effect,  had  not  Wessely,  in  his  fan- 
tastic manner,  recommended  that  all  Jewish  youths, 
without  distinction  of  talents  and  future  profession, 
should  be  taught,  not  only  history  and  geography, 


but  also  natural  sciences,  astronomy,  and  religious 
philosophy,  because  only  by  this  preliminary  k*now- 
ledge  could  a  thorough  understanding  of  Holy 
Writ  and  of  Judaism  be  acquired  ! 

This  epistle  bore  him  both  sweet  and  bitter  fruit. 
The  community  of  Trieste,  chiefly  comprising  Italian 
and  Portuguese  Jews,  who,  unlike  the  Germans,  did 
not  consider  culture  as  heresy,  had  applied  to  the 
governor,  Count  Zinzendorf,  declaring  their  readi- 
ness to  establish  a  normal  school,  and  begging  him 
to  advise  them  how  they  might  procure  text  books 
on  religion  and  ethics.  Zinzendorf  directed  them 
to  Mendelssohn,  whose  celebrated  name  had  pene- 
trated to  that  distant  place.  Accordingly,  Joseph 
Chayim  Galaigo,  in  the  name  of  the  congregation 
of  Trieste,  addressed  a  petition  to  the  Jewish  sage 
of  Berlin  for  his  writings.  On  this  occasion,  Men- 
delssohn called  the  attention  of  the  people  of  Trieste 
to  his  friend  Wessely  and  to  his  circular  letter,  rec- 
ommending the  founding  of  Jewish  schools,  and  the 
community  forthwith  entered  into  negotiations  with 
him.  Thus  his  fervent  words  met  with  early 

From  the  strictly  pious  people,  however,  a  storm 
now  broke  out  against  him.  They  were  particularly 
indignant  at  his  hearty  approval  of  Emperor  Joseph's 
reforms.  The  unamiable  manner  in  which  princes 
were  wont  to  concede  freedom,  the  force  brought  to 
bear  upon  the  Jews,  a  natural  aversion  to  forsake 
the  past,  the  legitimate  fear  that  through  school  ed- 
ucation and  partial  emancipation  young  men  would 
be  seduced  from  Judaism,  and  that  the  instruction 
given  at  the  normal  schools  would  supersede  the 
study  of  the  Talmud — all  these  things  had  induced 
the  rabbis  and  the  representatives  of  tradition  to 
oppose  the  reforming  Jewish  ordinances  of  Emperor 
Joseph.  Besides,  men  of  doubtful  piety,  such  as 
Herz  Homberg,  eagerly  pressed  forward  to  obtain 
appointments  at  the  newly-founded  training  schools, 

3/O  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   VIII. 

and  to  tempt  the  youthful  students  to  innovations. 
There  were,  to  be  sure,  intelligent  men,  especially  in 
Prague,  who  greeted  the  new  laws  as  salutary  meas- 
ures, and  hoped  that  by  these  means  the  Jews  would 
rise  out  of  their  wretched,  demoralized  condition. 
But  this  minority  was  denounced  by  the  orthodox 
as  innovators  and  triflers.  Religious  simplicity, 
which  at  every  puff  of  wind  feared  the  downfall  of 
the  edifice  of  faith,  and  the  desire  of  gain,  which 
fattened  upon  ignorance,  and  the  perverse  method 
of  instruction  in  a  corrupt  dialect,  worked  hand  in 
hand  to  predispose  the  communities  against  school 
reforms.  Wessely  destroyed  the  whole  opposition 
with  one  blow.  He  who  had  hitherto  been  respected 
as  an  orthodox  believer,  now  supported  the  new 
order  of  things.  Further,  in  his  incautious  way,  he 
had  quoted  the  Talmudical  sentence,  "A  Talmudist 
who  does  not  possess  knowledge  (general  culture), 
is  uglier  than  a  carcass."  This  expression  greatly 
angered  the  orthodox.  The  Austrian  rabbis  dared 
not  attack  him  openly,  because  he  had  only  followed 
the  emperor  in  his  ideas.  They  appear  therefore 
to  have  incited  certain  Polish  rabbis  to  condemn  his 
circular  letter  and  excommunicate  him. 

Although  the  zealots  were  without  support  from 
Berlin,  they  continued  in  their  heretic-hunting,  caus- 
ing the  pulpits  to  re-echo  with  imprecations  against 
Wessely;  and  in  Lissa  his  letter  was  publicly  burnt. 
He  had  the  bitter  experience  of  standing  alone  in 
this  conflict.  None  of  his  adherents  publicly  sided 
with  him,  although  he  was  contending  for  a  just  cause 
by  noble  methods  and  in  a  most  becoming  manner. 
Mendelssohn  did  not  like  such  disputes,  and  at  this 
time  was  suffering  too  much,  bodily  and  mentally, 
to  take  part.  Thus  Wessely  had  to  conduct  his 
own  defense.  He  published  a  second  letter  (April 
24),  supposed  to  be  addressed  to  the  Trieste  con- 
gregation, in  which  he  again  dwelt  upon  the  im- 
portance of  regular  instruction,  and  of  the  abolition 

CH.  vin.  MENDELSSOHN'S  DEATH.  371 

of  old  practices,  and  disproved  the  charges  against 
him.  Gentle  and  forbearing  as  he  was,  he  avoided 
retorting  severely  upon  his  opponents;  but  he  per- 
mitted words  of  censure  against  orthodoxy  and  the 
one-sided,  perverse  Talmudic  tendency  to  slip  from 
him.  It  was,  indeed,  the  irony  of  history,  that  the 
most  orthodox  among  the  followers  of  Mendelssohn, 
without  wishing  it,  opened  fire  on  Rabbinism,  as  the 
Kabbalist  Jacob  Emden  had  given  the  first  violent 
blow  to  the  Kabbala.  By  and  by,  several  Italian 
rabbis  of  Trieste,  Ferrara,  and  Venice,  spoke  in 
favor  of  Wessely,  and  recommended  culture,  al- 
though they  were  unable  to  bridge  over  the  chasm 
between  it  and  Rabbinism.  Wessely  was  victorious ; 
and  the  opposing  rabbis  laid  down  their  arms. 
Schools  for  regular  instruction  arose  here  and  there, 
even  in  Prague.  But  the  strict  Talmudists  were 
right.  Their  suspicions  foreboded  the  future  more 
truly  than  Mendelssohn's  and  Wessely's  confidence. 
The  old  rigid  form  of  Judaism  could  no  more  assert 
itself.  Both  these  men,  who  had  felt  so  much  at 
ease  in  the  old  structure,  and  wished  only  to  see  it 
cleansed  here  and  there  from  cobwebs  and  fungus 
growths,  contributed  to  sap  its  foundations. 

Wessely,  ever  deserted  by  fortune,  lived  to  see 
this  decay  with  weeping  eyes.  Mendelssohn,  more 
fortunate,  was  spared  this  pain.  Death  called  him 
away  in  time,  before  he  perceived  that  his  circle, 
even  his  own  daughters,  treated  with  contemptuous 
scorn  and  rejected  what  his  heart  held  to  be  most 
sacred,  and  what  he  so  earnestly  strove  to  glorify. 
Had  he  lived  ten  years  longer,  even  his  wisdom 
would  perhaps  not  have  availed  him  to  tide  over 
this  anguish.  He  who  without  a  trace  of  romance 
had  led  an  ideal  life,  died  ideally  transfigured,  at  the 
right  moment.  The  friendship  and  the  philosophy 
which  had  elevated  his  life  and  brought  him  fame 
broke  his  heart.  When  Mendelssohn  was  about 
to  raise  a  memorial  to  his  unforgotten  friend,  to 

372  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  VIII. 

show  him  in  his  true  greatness  to  future  gen- 
erations, he  learned  from  Jacobi  that  shortly  be- 
fore his  death  Lessing  had  manifested  a  decided 
liking  for  the  philosophy  of  Spinoza.  "  Lessing  a 
Spinozist !  "  This  pierced  Mendelssohn's  heart  as 
with  a  spear.  Nothing  was  so  distasteful  to  him  as 
the  pantheistic  system  of  Spinoza,  which  denied  a 
personal  God,  Providence,  and  Immortality,  ideas 
with  which  Mendelssohn's  soul  was  bound  up. 
That  Lessing  should  have  entertained  such  con- 
victions, and  that  he,  his  bosom  friend,  should 
know  nothing  whatsoever  about  them  !  Jealousy 
that  Lessing  had  communicated  to  others  the  secret 
so  carefully  concealed  from  himself,  and  deep  dis- 
appointment that  his  friend  had  not  shared  his  own 
convictions  took  possession  of  Mendelssohn.  He 
suspected,  that  his  philosophy,  if  it  was  true  that 
Lessing  had  not  been  pleased  with  it,  would  become 
obsolete,  and  be  thrust  aside.  His  whole  being 
rose  in  resistance  against  such  doubts.  These 
thoughts  robbed  the  last  years  of  his  life  of  rest, 
made  him  passionate,  excited,  feverish.  While 
composing  his  work  in  refutation  of  Jacobi's,  "To 
the  Friends  of  Lessing,"  excitement  so  overpowered 
him  that  it  brought  on  his  death  (January  4,  1786). 
This  ideal  death  for  friendship  and  wisdom  worthily 
concluded  his  life,  and  showed  him  to  posterity  as 
he  appeared  to  his  numerous  friends  and  admirers, 
an  upright,  honest  man,  in  whom  was  neither  false- 
hood nor  guile.  Almost  the  entire  population  of 
the  Prussian  capital,  and  many  earnest  men  in  Ger- 
many and  beyond  its  borders  mourned  the  man 
who,  forty  years  before,  with  heavy  heart  had 
knocked  at  one  of  the  gates  of  Berlin,  in  fear  that 
the  Christian  or  the  Jewish  beadle  would  drive  him 
away.  The  attempt  of  his  Christian  friends,  Nico- 
lai,  Biester,  and  Engel,  the  tutor  of  the  Crown 
Prince  Frederick  William  III,  in  conjunction  with 
Jewish  admirers,  to  erect  a  statue  to  Mendelssohn 


in  the  Opera  Square  next  to  those  of  Leibnitz, 
Lambert,  and  Sulzer,  although  it  did  not  meet  with 
approval,  characterizes  the  progress  of  the  time. 
The  deformed  son  of  the  so-called  "  Ten  Command- 
ments writer"  of  Dessau  had  become  an  ornament 
to  the  city  of  Berlin. 



The  Alliance  of  Reason  with  Mysticism— Israel  Baalshem,  his  Career 
and  Reputation— Movement  against  Rabbinism — The  "Zaddik" 
— Beer  Mizricz,  his  Arrogance  and  Deceptions — The  Devotional 
Methods  of  the  Chassidim — Their  Liturgy— Dissolution  of  the 
Synods  "  of  the  Four  Countries  " — Cossack  Massacres  in  Poland 
—Elijah  Wilna,  his  Character  and  Method  of  Research — The 
Mizricz  and  Karlin  Chassidim — Circumstances  prove  Favorable 
to  the  Spread  of  the  New  Sect — Vigorous  Proceedings  against 
them  in  Wilna — Death  of  Beer  Mizricz — Progress  of  Chassidism 
despite  the  Persecution  of  its  Opponents. 

1750—1786  c.  E. 

As  soon  as  an  historical  work  has  performed  its 
service,  and  is  to  undergo  a  change,  new  phe- 
nomena arise  from  various  sides,  and  assume  a 
hostile  attitude,  either  to  alter  or  destroy  it.  It 
might  have  been  foreseen  that  the  rejuvenescence 
of  the  Jewish  race,  for  which  Mendelssohn  had  lev- 
eled the  way,  would  produce  a  transformation  and 
decomposition  of  religious  habits  among  Jews.  The 
innovators  desired  this,  and  hoped,  and  strove  for  it ; 
the  old  orthodox  party  suspected  and  dreaded  it. 
The  process  of  dissolution  was  brought  about  also  in 
another  way,  upon  another  scene,  under  entirely 
different  conditions,  and  by  other  means,  and  this 
could  not  have  been  foreseen.  There  arose  in  Po- 
land a  new  Essenism,  with  forms  similar  to  those  of 
the  ancient  cult,  with  ablutions  and  baths,  white 
garments,  miraculous  cures,  and  prophetic  visions. 
Like  the  old  movement,  it  originated  in  ultra-piety, 
but  soon  turned  against  its  own  parent,  and  perhaps 
hides  within  itself  germs  of  a  peculiar  kind,  which, 
being  in  course  of  development,  cannot  be  defined. 
It  seems  remarkable  that,  at  the  time  when  Men- 


CH.   IX.  THE    NEW    CHASSIDIM.  375 

delssohn  declared  rational  thought  to  be  the  essence 
of  Judaism,  and  founded,  as  it  were,  a  widely-exten- 
ded order  of  enlightened  men,  another  banner  was 
unfurled,  the  adherents  of  which  announced  the 
grossest  superstition  to  be  the  fundamental  principle 
of  Judaism,  and  formed  an  order  of  wonder-seeking 
confederates.  Both  these  new  bodies  took  up  a 
hostile  position  to  traditional  Judaism,  and  created 
a  rupture.  History  in  its  generative  power  is  as 
manifold  and  puzzling  as  nature.  It  produces  in 
close  proximity  healing  herbs  and  poisonous  plants, 
lovely  flowers  and  hideous  parasites.  Reason  and 
unreason  seemed  to  have  entered  into  a  covenant 
to  shatter  the  gigantic  structure  of  Talmudic  Juda- 
ism. The  attempt  once  before  made  by  history, 
to  subvert  Judaism  by  the  contemporaneous  exist- 
ence of  Spinoza  and  Sabbata'i  Zevi,  was  now  re- 
peated by  the  simultaneous  attacks  of  representa- 
tives of  reason  and  unreason.  Enlightenment  and 
Kabbalistic  mysticism  joined  hands  to  commence 
the  work  of  destruction.  Mendelssohn  and  Israel 
Baalshem,  what  contrasts  !  Yet  both  unconsciously 
undermined  the  basis  of  Talmudic  Judaism.  The 
origin  of  the  new  Chassidim,  who  had  already  be- 
come numerous,  and  who  sprang  up  very  rapidly,  is 
not  so  clear  as  the  movement  started  by  Mendels- 
sohn. The  new  sect,  a  daughter  of  darkness,  was 
born  in  gloom,  and  even  to-day  proceeds  stealthily 
on  its  mysterious  way.  Only  a  few  circumstances 
which  contributed  to  its  rise  and  propagation  are 

The  founders  of  the  new  Chassidism  were  Israel 
of  Miedziboz  (born  about  1698;  died  1759)  a'1(l 
Beerof Mizricz  (born  about  1700;  died  1772).  Tin: 
former  received,  alike  from  his  admirers  and  his  an- 
tagonists, the  surname  of  "The  Wonderworker  by 
means  of  Invocations  in  the  Name  of  (iod,"  l> 
shem,  or  Baal-Shemtob,  in  the  customary  abbreviated 
form,  Besht.  As  ugly  as  the  name,  Besht,  \\.i,  tin- 

376  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IX, 

form  of  the  founder  and  the  order  that  he  called 
into  existence.  The  Graces  did  not  sit  by  his 
cradle,  but  the  spirit  of  belief  in  wonderworking, 
and  his  brain  was  so  filled  with  fantastic  images 
that  he  could  not  distinguish  them  from  real,  tangi- 
ble beings.  The  experiences  of  Israel's  youth  are 
unknown.  So  much,  however,  is  certain  ;  he  was 
left  an  orphan,  poor  and  neglected,  early  in  life,  and 
passed  a  great  portion  of  his  youth  in  the  forests 
and  caves  of  the  Carpathian  mountains.  The  spurs 
of  the  Carpathian  hills  were  his  teachers.  Here  he 
learnt  what  he  would  not  have  acquired  in  the  dark, 
narrow,  dirty  hovels  called  schools  in  Poland — 
namely,  to  understand  the  tongue  which  nature 
speaks.  The  spirits  of  the  mountains  and  the  foun- 
tains whispered  secrets  to  him.  Here  he  also 
learned,  probably  from  the  peasant  women  who 
gathered  herbs  on  the  mountain-tops  and  on  the 
edges  of  rivers,  the  use  of  plants  as  remedies.  As 
they  did  not  trust  to  the  healing  power  of  nature, 
but  added  conjurations  and  invocations  to  good  and 
evil  spirits,  Israel  also  accustomed  himself  to  this 
method  of  cure.  He  became  a  miracle-doctor. 
Necessity,  too,  was  his  teacher ;  it  taught  him  to 
pray.  How  often,  in  his  forsaken  and  orphaned 
condition,  may  he  have  suffered  from  want  even  of 
dry  bread,  how  often  may  he  have  been  surrounded 
by  real  or  imaginary  dangers  !  In  his  distress  he 
prayed  in  the  usual  forms  of  the  synagogue  ;  but  he 
spoke  his  words  with  fervor  and  intense  devotion, 
or  cried  them  aloud  in  the  solitude  of  the  mountains. 
His  audible  prayer  awakened  the  echoes  of  the 
mountains,  which  appeared  as  an  answer  to  his  sup- 
plications. He  seems  to  have  been  often  in  a  state 
of  rapture,  and  to  have  induced  this  condition  by 
frantic  movements  of  the  whole  body  while  praying. 
This  agitation  drove  the  blood  to  his  head,  made 
his  eyes  glitter,  and  wrought  both  body  and  soul 
into  such  a  condition  of  over-excitement  that  he  felt 


a  deadly  weakness  come  over  him.  Was  this 
magnetic  tension  of  the  soul  caused  by  the  motions 
and  the  shouting,  singing,  and  praying? 

Israel  Baalshem  asserted  that,  in  consequence  of 
these  bodily  agitations  and  this  intense  devotion,  he 
often  caught  a  glimpse  of  infinity.  His  soul  soared 
upward  to  the  world  of  light,  heard  and  saw  Divine 
secrets  and  revelations,  entered  into  conversation 
with  sublime  spirits,  and  by  their  intervention  could 
secure  the  grace  of  God  and  prosperity,  and  espe- 
cially avert  impending  calamities.  Israel  Miedziboz 
also  boasted  that  he  could  see  into  the  future,  as 
secrets  were  unveiled  to  him.  Was  this  a  deliber- 
ate boast,  self-deception,  or  merely  an  over-estima- 
tion of  morbid  feelings  ?  There  are  persons,  times, 
and  places,  in  which  the  line  of  demarcation  be- 
tween trickery  and  self-delusion  cannot  be  distin- 
guished. In  Poland,  in  Baalshem's  time,  with  the 
terrible  mental  strain  created  by  the  Kabbala  in 
connection  with  the  Sabbatian  fraud,  the  feverish 
expectation  of  imminent  Messianic  redemption,  ev- 
erything was  possible  and  everything  credible.  In 
that  land  the  fancy  of  both  Jews  and  Christians 
moved  among  extraordinary  and  supernatural  phe- 
nomena as  in  its  natural  element.  Israel  stead- 
fastly and  firmly  believed  in  the  visions  seen  when 
he  was  under  mental  and  physical  excitement ;  he 
believed  in  the  power  of  his  prayers.  In  his  delu- 
sion he  blasphemously  declared  that  prayer  is  a 
kind  of  marriage  union  (Zivug)  of  man  with  the 
Godhead  (Shechina),  upon  which  he  must  enter 
whilst  in  a  state  of  excitement.  Equipped  with  al- 
leged higher  knowledge  of  secret  remedies  and  the 
spirit  world,  to  which  he  thought  he  had  attained 
through  Divine  grace,  Israel  entered  the  society  of 
men  to  prove  his  higher  gifts.  It  must  be  acknowl- 
edged to  his  credit  that  he  never  misused  tin -si  •  tal 
ents.  He  did  not  make  a  trade  of  them,  nor  seek  to 
earn  his  livelihood  with  them.  At  first  lu:  followed 

378  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IX. 

the  humble  occupation  of  a  wagoner,  afterwards  he 
dealt  in  horses,  and  when  his  means  permitted  it  he 
kept  a  tavern. 

Occasionally,  when  specially  requested,  he  em- 
ployed his  miraculous  remedies,  and  thereby  gained 
so  great  a  reputation  that  he  was  consulted  even  by 
Polish  nobles.  He  became  conspicuous  by  his 
noisy,  delirious  praying,  which  must  have  so  trans- 
figured him  that  men  did  not  recognize  the  wagoner 
or  horse-dealer  whom  they  knew.  He  was  admired 
for  his  revelation  of  secrets.  In  Poland  not  only 
the  unlearned  and  the  Jews  considered  such  gifts 
and  miracles  possible  ;  the  Jesuits  and  the  Kabbal- 
ists  had  stultified  the  Christians  and  the  Jews  of 
their  country,  and  plunged  them  into  a  state  of  prim- 
itive barbarism. 

It  would  have  been  a  remarkable  thing  if  such  a 
wonder-doctor,  who  appeared  to  have  intercourse 
with  the  spirit  world,  had  not  found  adherents,  but 
he  can  hardly  have  designed  the  formation  of  a  new 
sect.  He  was  joined  by  persons  of  a  similar  dispo- 
sition to  his  own,  who  felt  a  religious  impulse,  which 
could  not  be  satisfied,  they  thought,  by  a  rigorous, 
penitential  life,  or  by  mechanical  repetition  of  pre- 
scribed prayers.  They  joined  Israel,  in  Miedziboz, 
to  pray  with  devotion,  i.  e.,  in  a  sing-song  tune,  clap- 
ping their  hands,  bowing,  jumping,  gesticulating,  and 
uttering  cries.  At  almost  the  same  time  there 
arose,  in  Wales,  a  Christian  sect  called  "the  Jump- 
ers," who  resorted  to  similar  movements  during 
prayer,  and  induced  trances  and  mesmeric  dreams. 
At  the  same  time  there  was  established,  in  North 
America,  the  sect  of  the  Shakers,  by  an  Irish  girl, 
Johanna  Lee,  who  likewise  in  the  delirium  of  prayer 
pursued  mystic  Messianic  phantoms.  Israel  need 
not  have  been  a  trickster  to  obtain  followers.  Mys- 
ticism and  madness  are  contagious.  He  particularly 
attracted  men  who  desired  to  lead  a  free  and  merry 
life,  at  the  same  time  hoping  to  reach  a  lofty  aim, 

CH.  IX.  DOB    BEER. 


and  to  live  assured  of  the  nearness  of  God  in  seren- 
ity and  calmness,  and  to  advance  the  Messianic 
future.  They  did  not  need  to  pore  over  Talmudical 
folios  in  order  to  attain  to  higher  piety. 

It  became  the  fashion  in  neo-Chassidean  circles  to 
scoff  at  the  Talmudists.  Because  the  latter  mocked 
at  the  unlearned  chief  of  the  new  order,  who  had  a 
following  without  belonging  to  the  guild  of  Talmud- 
ists, without  having  been  initiated  into  the  Talmud 
and  its  appendages,  the  Chassidim  depreciated  the 
study  of  the  Talmud,  avowing  that  it  was  not  able 
to  promote  a  truly  godly  life.  Covert  war  existed 
between  the  neo-Chassidim  and  the  Rabbanites ;  the 
latter  could  not,  however,  harm  their  opponents  so 
long  as  Israel's  adherents  did  not  depart  from  exist- 
ing Judaism.  After  the  death  of  the  founder,  when 
barbarism  and  degeneracy  increased,  the  feud  grew 
into  a  complete  rupture  under  Beer  of  Mizricz. 

Dob  Beer  (or  Berish)  was  no  visionary  like  Israel, 
but  possessed  the  faculty  of  clear  insight  into  the 
condition  of  men's  minds.  He  was  thus  able  to 
render  the  mind  and  will  of  others  subservient  to 
him.  Although  he  joined  the  new  movement  only 
a  short  time  before  Israel's  death,  yet,  whether  at 
his  suggestion  or  not,  Israel's  son  and  sons-in-law 
were  passed  over,  and  Beer  was  made  Israel's  suc- 
cessor in  the  leadership  of  the  neo-Chassidean  com- 
munity. Beer,  who  transferred  the  center  to  Miz- 
ricz— a  village  in  Volhynia — was  superior  to  his 
master  in  many  points.  He  was  well  read  in  Tal- 
mudical and  Kabbalistic  writings,  was  a  fluent 
preacher  (Maggid),  who,  to  further  his  purpose, 
could  make  the  most  far-fetched  biblical  verses,  as 
also  Agaclic  and  Zoharic  expressions,  harmonize, 
and  thus  surprise  his  audience.  He  removed  I  mm 
the  Chassidim  the  stigma  of  ignorance,  especially 
disgraceful  in  Poland,  and  secured  an  accession  of 
supporters.  He  had  a  commanding  appearance,  did 
not  mingle  with  the  people,  but  lived  the  whole 

380  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

week  secluded  in  a  small  room — only  accessible  to 
his  confidants — and  thus  acquired  the  renown  of 
mysterious  intercourse  with  the  heavenly  world. 
Only  on  the  Sabbath  did  he  show  himself  to  all  who 
longed  to  be  favored  with  his  sight.  On  this  day 
he  appeared  splendidly  attired  in  satin,  his  outer 
garment,  his  shoes,  and  even  his  snuff-box  being 
white,  the  color  signifying  grace  in  the  Kabbalistic 
language.  On  this  day,  in  accordance  with  the  cus- 
tom introduced  by  Israel  Besht,  he  offered  up 
prayers  together  with  his  friends,  with  the  strangers 
who  had  made  a  pilgrimage  to  him,  with  the  new 
members,  and  those  curious  to  see  the  Kabbalistic 
saint  and  wonderworker.  To  produce  the  joyous 
state  of  mind  necessary  to  devout  prayer,  Beer  in- 
dulged in  vulgar  jokes,  whereby  the  merriment  of 
the  bystanders  was  aroused ;  for  instance,  he  would 
joke  with  one  of  the  circle,  and  throw  him  down. 
In  the  midst  of  this  child's  play  he  would  suddenly 
cry  out,  "  Now  serve  the  Lord  with  gladness." 

Under  Beer's  guidance,  the  constitution  of  Chas- 
sidism  remained  apparently  in  the  same  form  as 
under  his  predecessor:  fervent,  convulsive  praying, 
inspiration  (Hithlahabuth),  miraculous  cures,  and 
revelations  of  the  future.  But  as  these  actions  did 
not,  as  with  Israel,  flow  from  a  peculiar  or  abnormal 
state  of  mind,  they  could  only  be  imitated — artifice 
or  illusion  had  to  supply  what  nature  withheld.  It 
was  an  accepted  fact  that  the  Chassidean  leader,  or 
Zaddik,  the  perfectly  pious  man,  had  to  be  enthu- 
siastic in  prayer,  had  to  have  ecstatic  dreams  and 
visions.  How  can  a  clever  plotter  appear  inspired? 
Alcohol,  so  much  liked  in  Poland,  now  had  to  take 
the  place  of  the  inspiring  demon.  Beer  had  not 
the  knowledge  of  remedial  herbs,  which  his  teacher 
had  obtained  in  the  Carpathian  mountains.  He, 
therefore,  devoted  himself  to  medicine,  and  if  his 
remedies  did  not  avail,  then  the  sick  person  died  of 
his  sinfulness.  To  predict  the  future  was  a  more 

CH.  IX.  THE    "ZADDIK.  381 

difficult  task,  yet  it  had  to  be  accomplished;  his 
reputation  as  a  thaumaturgist  depended  upon  it. 
Beer  was  equal  to  the  emergency.  Among  his  in- 
timates were  expert  spies,  worthy  of  serving  in  the 
secret  police.  They  discovered  many  secrets,  and 
told  them  to  their  leader  ;  thus  he  was  enabled  to 
assume  an  appearance  of  omniscience.  Or  his 
emissaries  committed  robberies  ;  if  the  victims 
came  to  the  "  Saint "  in  his  hermitage  to  find  them 
out,  he  was  able  to  indicate  the  exact  spot  where 
the  missing  articles  were  lying.  If  strangers,  at- 
tracted by  his  fame,  came  to  see  him,  they  were  not 
admitted,  as  mentioned,  until  the  following  Satur- 
day, to  take  part  in  the  Chassidean  witches'  Sabbath. 
Meantime  his  spies,  by  artful  questions  and  other 
means,  gleaned  a  knowledge  of  the  affairs  and  se- 
cret desires  of  these  strangers,  and  communicated 
them  to  the  Zaddik.  In  the  first  interview  Beer,  in 
a  seemingly  casual  manner,  was  able,  in  a  skillfully 
arranged  discourse,  to  bring  in  allusions  to  these 
strangers,  whereby  they  would  be  convinced  that  he 
had  looked  into  their  hearts,  and  knew  their  past. 
By  these  and  similar  contrivances,  he  succeeded  in 
asserting  himself  as  omniscient,  and  increasing  the 
number  of  his  followers.  Every  new  convert  testi- 
fied to  his  Divine  inspiration,  and  induced  others  to 

In  order  to  strengthen  respect  for  him,  Beer  pro- 
pounded a  theory,  which  in  its  logical  application  is 
calculated  to  promote  most  harmful  consequences. 
Supported  by  the  Kabbalistic  formula,  that  "the 
righteous  or  the  pious  man  is  the  foundation  of  the 
world,"  he  magnified  the  importance  of  the  Zaddik, 
or  the  Chassidean  chief,  to  such  an  extent  that  it 
became  blasphemy.  "A  Zaddik  is  not  alone  the 
most  perfect  and  sinless  human  being,  he  is  not 
alone  Moses,  but  the  representative  of  God  and 
His  image."  All  and  everything  that  the  Zaddik 
does  and  thinks  has  a  decided  influence  upon  the 

382  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IX. 

upper  and  lower  worlds.  The  Deity  reveals  Him- 
self especially  in  the  acts  of  the  Zaddik;  even  his 
most  trifling  deeds  are  to  be  considered  important. 
The  way  he  wears  his  clothes,  ties  his  shoes, 
smokes  his  pipe,  whether  he  delivers  profound  ad- 
dresses, or  indulges  in  silly  jokes — everything 
bears  a  close  relation  to  the  Deity,  and  is  of  as 
much  moment  as  the  fulfillment  of  a  religious  duty. 
Even  when  drawing  inspiration  from  the  bottle,  he 
is  swaying  the  upper  and  nether  worlds.  All  these 
absurd  fancies  owed  their  origin  to  the  supersti- 
tious doctrines  of  the  Kabbala,  which,  in  spite  of  the 
unspeakable  confusion  they  had  wrought  through 
Sabbatai  Zevi  and  Frank,  in  spite  of  the  opposition 
which  their  chief  exponent,  the  Zohar,  had  encoun- 
tered at  about  this  time  at  the  hands  of  Jacob  Em- 
den,  still  clouded  the  brains  of  the  Polish  Jews. 
According  to  this  theory,  the  Zaddik,  i.  e.,  Berish 
Mizricz,  was  the  embodiment  of  power  and  splendor 
upon  earth.  In  his  "  Stiibel,"  or"  Hermitage,"  i.  e., 
in  his  dirty  little  retired  chamber,  he  considered 
himself  as  great  as  the  papal  vicar  of  God  upon 
earth  in  his  magnificent  palace.  The  Zaddik  was 
also  to  bear  himself  proudly  towards  men ;  all  this 
was  "  for  the  glory  of  God."  It  was  a  sort  of  Cath- 
olicism within  Judaism. 

Beer's  idea,  however,  was  r.ot  meant  to  remain 
idle  and  unfruitful,  but  to  bring  him  honor  and 
revenue.  While  the  Zaddik  cared  for  the  conduct 
of  the  world,  for  the  obtaining  of  heavenly  grace, 
and  especially  for  Israel's  preservation  and  glorifi- 
cation, his  adherents  had  to  cultivate  three  kinds  of 
virtues.  It  was  their  duty  to  draw  nigh  to  him,  to 
enjoy  the  sight  of  him,  and  from  time  to  time  to 
make  pilgrimages  to  him.  Further,  they  were  to 
confess  their  sins  to  him.  By  these  means  alone 
could  they  hope  for  pardon  of  their  iniquities.  Fi- 
nally, they  had  to  bring  him  presents,  rich  gifts, 
which  he  knew  how  to  employ  to  the  best  advan- 

CH.   IX.  SPREAD    OF    THE    NEW    CHASSIDISM.  383 

tage.  It  was  also  incumbent  upon  them  to  attend 
to  his  personal  wants.  It  seems  like  a  return  to  the 
days  of  the  priests  of  Baal,  so  vulgar  and  disgusting 
do  these  perversities  appear.  The  saddest  part  of 
all  is  that  this  teaching,  worthy  of  a  fetish  worship- 
ing people,  met  with  approbation  in  Poland,  the 
country  distinguished  by  cumbersome  knowledge  of 
Jewish  literature.  It  was  just  this  excess,  this  over- 
activity  of  the  spiritual  digestive  apparatus,  that 
produced  such  lamentable  phenomena.  The  intel- 
lect of  the  Polish  Jews  had  been  so  over-excited, 
that  the  coarsest  things  were  more  pleasing  to  them 
than  what  was  refined. 

Beer  despatched  abroad  as  his  apostles  bombas- 
tic preachers  who  seasoned  his  injurious  teachings 
with  distorted  citations  from  the  Scriptures.  Sim- 
ple-minded men,  rogues,  and  idlers,  of  whom  there 
were  so  many  in  Poland,  attached  themselves  to  the 
new  Chassidim ;  the  first  from  inclination  to  enthu- 
siasm and  belief  in  miracles  ;  the  cunning,  in  order 
to  procure  money  in  an  easy  way,  and  lead  a  pleas- 
ant existence;  and  the  idlers,  because  in  the  court 
of  the  Zaddik  they  found  occupation,  and  gratified 
iheir  curiosity.  If  such  idlers  were  asked  what  they 
were  thinking  of,  as  they  strolled  about  pipe  in 
mouth,  they  would  reply  with  seriousness,  "  We  are 
meditating  upon  God."  The  simple  people,  how- 
ever, who  hoped  to  win  bliss  through  the  Chassi- 
dean  discipline,  engaged  continually  in  prayer,  un- 
til through  exhaustion  they  dropped  unconscious. 

Neo-Chassidism  was  favored  by  two  circum- 
stances, the  fraternization  of  the  members  and  the 
dryness  and  fossilized  character  of  Talmudic  study 
as  carried  on  in  Poland  for  more  than  a  century. 
At  the  outset  the  Chassidim  formed  a  kind  of 
brotherhood,  not  indeed  with  a  common  purse,  as 
among  their  prototypes,  the  Essenesand  the  Judaeo- 
Christians,  but  having  regard  to  the  wants  of  needy 
members.  Owing  to  the  closeness  of  their  union, 

384  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

their  spying  system,  and  their  energy,  it  was  easy 
for  them  to  provide  for  those  who  lacked  employ- 
ment or  food.  On  New  Year  and  the  Day  of 
Atonement  people,  even  those  who  dwelt  at  long 
distances,  undertook  pilgrimages  to  the  Zaddik,  as 
formerly  to  the  Temple,  and  left  their  wives  and 
children  to  pass  the  so-called  holy  days  in  the  com- 
pany of  their  chief,  to  be  edified  by  his  presence  and 
actions.  Here  the  Chassidean  disciples  learned  to 
know  one  another,  discussed  local  affairs,  and  ren- 
dered mutual  help.  Well-to-do  merchants  found 
opportunity  at  these  assemblies,  in  conversation 
with  fellow-believers,  upon  whose  fidelity  and  broth- 
erly attachment  they  could  rely,  to  discover  fresh 
sources  of  income.  Fathers  of  marriageable  daugh- 
ters sought  and  easily  found  husbands  for  them, 
which  at  that  time  in  Poland  was  considered  a  highly 
important  matter.  The  common  meals  on  the 
afternoons  of  Saturdays  and  the  holidays  strength- 
ened the  bonds  of  loyalty  and  affection  among 
them.  How  could  meals  for  so  many  guests  be 
provided  ?  The  wealthy  Chassidim  regarded  it  as 
a  duty  to  support  the  Zaddik  liberally.  A  special 
source  of  income  was  the  superstitious  belief  pre- 
valent among  the  Chassidim  that  the  Zaddik  for 
certain  sums  (Pidion,  Redemption)  could  ward  off 
threatening  perils  and  cure  deadly  diseases.  Pres- 
sure was  brought  to  bear  upon  wealthy  but  weak- 
minded  persons,  and  they  were  terrified  into  be- 
lieving that  they  could  escape  impending  calamities 
only  by  rich  gifts.  Whoever  desired  to  enter  upon 
a  hazardous  transaction  consulted  the  Zaddik  as  an 
oracle,  and  had  to  pay  for  his  counsel.  The  cunning 
Chassidim  knew  everything,  were  ready  with  counsel 
in  any  emergency,  and  by  their  craftiness  were 
able  to  afford  real  assistance.  The  Zaddik,  how- 
ever miserly  he  might  be,  had  to  assist  the  poor 
and  distressed  with  his  revenues.  Thus  ev- 
ery member  received  help  here.  Full  of  enthu- 


siasm  they  returned  home  from  their  journey ; 
the  feeling  that  they  belonged  to  a  brotherhood 
elevated  them,  and  they  ardently  looked  forward 
to  the  return  of  the  holy  time.  The  poor  an-1 
forsaken,  the  fanatical  and  the  unprincipled,  could 
not  do  better  than  join  this  union,  this  easy-going 
yet  religious  order. 

Earnest   men,  also,   desirous  of  satisfying  their 
spiritual    wants,    felt    themselves  attracted  to   the 
Chassidim.      Rabbinical  Judaism,  as  known  in  Po- 
land, offered  no  sort  of  religious  comfort.     Its  rep- 
resentatives  placed  the  highest  value  upon  the  dia- 
lectic, artificial  exposition  of  the   Talmud  and   its 
commentaries.    Actual  necessity  had  besides  caused 
that  portion  of  the  Talmud  which  treated  of  civil 
law  to  be  closely  studied,  as  the  rabbis  exercised 
civil  jurisdiction  over  their  flocks.     Fine-spun  decis- 
ions of  new,  complicated  legal  points  occupied  the 
doctors  of  the  Talmud  day  and  night.     Moreover, 
this   hair-splitting  was  considered  sublimest  piety, 
and  superseded  everything  else.     If  any  one  solved 
an     intricate    Talmudic     question,    or    discovered 
something    new,    called   Torah,    he    felt    self-satis- 
fied, and  assured  of  his  felicity  hereafter.     All  other 
objects,  the   impulse  to  devotion,  prayer,  and  emo- 
tion, or  interest  in  the  moral  condition  of  the  com- 
munity, were  secondary  matters,  to  which  scarcely 
any  attention  was  paid.      The  mental  exercise  of 
making   logical    deductions   from   the   Talmud,   or 
more  correctly  from   the  laws  of  Mine  and  Thine, 
choked  all   other  intellectual   pursuits    in    Poland. 
Religious      ceremonies     had     degenerated,     both 
amongst  Talmudists  and  the  unlearned,  into  mean- 
ingless  usages,  and  prayer  into  mere   lip-service. 
To    men   of  feeling  this  aridity  of  Talmudic  study, 
together  with  the  love  of  debate,  and  tin-  dogma- 
tism and  pride  of  the  rabbis  arising  from  it,  were 
repellent,  and  they  flung  themselves  into  the  arms 
of  the  new  order,  which  allowed  so  much  play  lor 

386  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  IX. 

the  fancy  and  the  emotions.  Especially  preachers, 
semi-Talmudists  who  were  looked  upon  and  treated 
by  erudite  rabbi-Talmuclists  as  inferior  and  con- 
temptible, who  eked  out  a  wretched  living,  or 
almost  starved,  leagued  themselves  with  the  neo- 
Chassidim,  because  among  them  their  talents  of 
preaching  were  appreciated,  and  they  could  obtain 
an  honorable  position,  and  be  secured  against  need. 
By  the  accession  of  such  elements  the  circle  of  neo- 
Chassidim  became  daily  augmented.  Almost  in 
every  town  lived  followers  of  the  new  school,  who 
occasionally  had  intercourse  with  their  brother- 
members  and  their  chief. 

With  advancing  strength  the  antipathy  of  the 
neo-Chassidim  to  the  rabbis  and  Talmudists  in- 
creased. Without  being  aware  of  it  they  formed  a 
new  sect,  which  scorned  intercourse  with  the  Tal- 
mud Jews.  With  Beer  at  their  head,  they  felt 
themselves  strong  enough  to  introduce  an  innova- 

o  o 

tion,  which  would  naturally  bring  down  the  anger  of 
the  rabbis  upon  them.  Since  prayer  and  the  rites 
of  Divine  service  were  the  chief  consideration  for 
them,  they  did  not  trouble  themselves  about  the 
prescriptions  of  the  ritual  law  as  to  how  many 
prayers  should  be  said,  nor  at  what  time  the  differ- 
ent services  should  commence  and  terminate,  but 
were  entirely  guided  by  the  feeling  of  the  moment. 
Through  their  daily  ablutions,  baths,  and  other  prep- 
arations for  public  worship  they  were  seldom  ready 
for  prayer  at  the  prescribed  time,  but  began  later, 
prolonged  it  by  the  movements  of  their  bodies  and 
their  intoning,  and  suddenly  came  to  an  end  after 
omitting  several  portions.  They  were  especially 
averse  to  the  harsh  interpolations  in  the  Sabbath 
and  festival  prayers  (the  Piyutim).  These  inser- 
tions interrupt  the  most  important  and  suggestive 
portions  of  the  service.  To  abolish  these  at  a 
blow,  Beer  Mizricz  introduced  the  prayer-book  of 
the  arch-Kabbalist,  Isaac  Lurya,  which  for  the 

CH.   IX.  STATE    OF    POLAND. 

greater  part  conforms  to  the  Portuguese  ritual,  and 
does  not  contain  poetical  (poetanic)  additions.  In 
the  eyes  of  the  ultra-orthodox  this  innovation  was 
an  enormous,  or  rather  a  double  crime,  permitting, 
as  it  did,  the  omission  of  interpolations  hallowed  by 
custom,  and  the  exchange  of  the  German  ritual  for 
the  Sephardic. 

This  innovation  would  probably  have  been  se- 
verely visited  upon  the  neo-Chassidim,  but  that  at 
this  time,  when  the  political  power  of  Poland  lay 
crushed,  the  firm  political  connection  of  the  Polish 
Jews  had  also  been  dissolved.  Poland  was  dis- 
tracted by  civil  war.  "  In  this  country,"  as  the 
Primate  of  Gnesen  complained  at  the  opening  of  the 
Reichstag,  March,  1764,  "freedom  is  oppressed,  the 
laws  are  not  obeyed,  justice  cannot  be  obtained, 
trade  is  utterly  ruined,  districts  and  villages  are  de- 
vastated, the  treasury  is  empty,  and  the  coin  of  the 
realm  has  no  value."  It  had  been  enfeebled  by  the 
Jesuits,  and  was  already  regarded  by  Russia  as  a 
sure  prey.  Its  king — Stanislaus  Augustus  Ponia- 
towski — was  a  weakling,  the  plaything  of  internal 
factions  and  external  foes  (September,  1764).  In 
the  first  year  of  his  reign,  Poniatowski  among  other 
laws  issued  a  regulation  which  destroyed  the  com- 
munal union  of  the  Polish  Jews.  The  synod  of  the 
Four  Countries,  composed  of  delegates,  rabbis  and 
laymen  (Parnassim),  with  authority  to  pronounce 
interdicts  and  levy  fines,  was  not  permitted  to  as- 
semble, pass  resolutions,  or  execute  them. 

The  dissolution  of  the  synod  was  very  fortunate 
for  the  neo-Chassidim.     They  could  not  be  excom- 
municated by  the  representatives  of  the  Polish  Jew- 
ish world,  but  each  individual  congregation  had  to 
proceed  against   them    and  forbid  their   meetings. 
Even  this  step  was  not  taken  at  once,  as  the   trrri 
ble  death-struggle  in  which  Poland  engaged  before 
its  first  partition  was  severely  felt  by  the  wealthy 
Jews,  who  trembled  for  their  lives.     The  Confcder- 

HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IX. 

ation  War  broke  out,  which  made  many  districts^ 
desert ;  Poland  was  punished  by  eternal  Justice  in 
the  same  way  as  it  had  sinned.  In  the  name  of  the 
pope  and  the  Jesuits  it  had  always  persecuted  dis- 
senters, and  excluded  them  from  public  offices, 
and,  in  the  name  of  the  dissenters,  Catherine 
plunged  the  land  into  fratricidal  war.  The  Rus- 
sians, for  the  second  time,  let  loose  against  Poland 
the  Zaporogian  Cossacks — the  savage  Haidamaks — 
who  inflicted  death,  by  every  known  method,  upon 
the  Polish  nobles,  the  clergy,  and  the  Jews.  The 
Haidamaks  hung  up  together  a  nobleman,  a  Jew,  a 
monk,  and  a  dog,  with  the  mocking  inscription, 
"All  are  equal."  Most  inhuman  cruelties  were  in- 
flicted upon  captives  and  the  defenseless.  In  ad- 
dition came  the  Turks,  who,  in  the  guise  of  saviours 
of  Poland,  murdered  and  plundered  on  every  side. 
The  Ukraine,  Podolia,  in  general  the  southern  pro- 
vinces of  Poland,  were  turned  into  deserts. 

These  misfortunes  were  more  advantageous  than 
injurious  to  the  neo-Chassidim.  They  spread  in 
the  north,  and  whilst  hitherto  they  had  been  able  to 
carry  on  their  cult  only  in  small,  comparatively 
young  communities,  from  this  time  they  gained 
ground  in  the  large  and  old  congregations.  Their 
numbers  had  already  grown  to  such  an  extent  that 
they  formed  two  branches — the  Mizriczians  and  the 
Karlinians — the  former  called  after  their  original 
home,  the  latter  after  the  village  of  Karlin,  near 
Pinsk.  The  Karlinians  spread  as  far  as  Wilna  and 
Brody.  At  first  they  proceeded  cautiously.  As 
soon  as  at  least  ten  persons  had  assembled,  they 
looked  for  a  room  (Stubel)  in  which  to  conduct  their 
services  ;  there  they  practiced  the  rites  of  their 
creed,  and  sought  to  gain  new  adherents;  but  all 
this  was  skillfully  done,  so  that  nothing  came  to 
light  before  they  had  secured  a  firm  foothold.  In 
Lithuania  their  system  was  not  yet  known,  and  thus 
at  first  they  aroused  no  suspicion. 

CH.  IX.  ELIJAH    WILNA.  380 

The  first  violent  attack  upon  them  was  made  by 
a  man  whose  influence  was  blessed  during-  his  life- 
time, and  even  after  death,  and  who,  in  a  more  fav- 
orable environment,  might,  like  Mendelssohn,  have 
effected  much  for  the  moral  advancement  of  his  co- 
religionists. Elijah  Wilna  (born  1720;  died  1797), 
whose  name,  with  the  title  of  "  Gaon,"  is  still  men- 
tioned by  the  Lithuanian  Jews  with  reverence  and 
love,  was  a  rare  exception  among  the  mass  of  the 
Polish  Jews.  He  was  of  the  purest  character,  and 
possessed  high  talents,  which  he  did  not  put  to  per- 
verted uses.  It  suffices  to  say  of  his  character  that 
in  spite  of  his  comprehensive  and  profound  Tal- 
mudical  erudition,  he  refused  a  post  as  rabbi,  in 
contrast  to  most  scholars  in  Poland,  who  were 
office-seekers,  and  obtained  rabbinates  by  artifice. 
In  spite  of  the  marvelous  fertility  of  his  pen  in 
many  domains  of  Jewish  literature,  he  allowed 
nothing  to  be  published  during  his  lifetime,  again  in 
contradistinction  to  contemporary  students,  who,  in 
order  to  make  a  name  and  to  see  their  ideas  in 
print,  scarcely  waited  till  the  ink  of  their  composi- 
tions was  dry.  In  his  disinterestedness,  Elijah 
Wilna  realized  the  ideal  of  the  Talmud,  that  a 
teacher  of  Judaism  "  should  use  the  Law  neither  as 
a  crown  to  adorn  himself  therewith,  nor  as  a  spade 
to  dig  therewith."  In  spite  of  the  superiority  of  his 
knowledge  and  the  full  and  general  recognition  ac- 
corded him,  he  modestly  and  conscientiously  avoided 
asserting  himself.  The  gratification  that  results 
from  research,  from  the  seeking  of  knowledge,  com- 
pletely satisfied  him.  His  intellectual  method  cor- 
responded in  its  unaffected  simplicity  with  his  char- 
acter and  life.  As  a  matter  of  course,  the  Talmud 
and  all  the  branches  connected  with  or  dependent 
on  it  filled  his  mind.  But  he  disliked  the  corrupt 
method  of  his  countrymen,  who  indulged  in  hair 
splitting,  casuistry,  and  subtleties.  His  sole  aim 
was  to  penetrate  to  the  simple  sense  of  the  text ; 

390  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IX. 

he  even  made  an  attempt  at  the  critical  examina- 
tion and  emendation  of  texts,  and  by  his  undistorted 
explanations  he  blew  down  the  houses  of  cards 
which  the  subtle  Talmudists  had  erected  upon 

It  required  extraordinary  mental  force  to  swim 
against  the  high  tide  of  custom  and  rise  above  the 
aberrations  into  which  all  the  sons  of  the  Talmud  in 
Poland  had  fallen.  In  point  of  fact  Elijah  Wilna 
stood  isolated  in  his  time.  It  seemed  as  though 
from  his  youth  he  had  been  afraid  of  following  the 
errors  of  his  compatriots,  for  he  attached  himself  to 
no  special  school,  but,  strange  to  say,  was  his  own 
teacher  in  the  Talmud.  Talmudical  studies  did  not 
exclusively  occupy  his  mind.  Elijah  Wilna  devoted 
great  attention  to  the  Bible — a  rarity  in  his  circle— 
and,  what  was  still  more  unusual,  he  acquainted 
himself  with  the  grammar  of  the  Hebrew  language. 
Unlike  his  compatriots,  he  by  no  means  despised  a 
knowledge  of  extra-Talmudic  subjects,  but  studied 
mathematics,  and  wrote  a  book  upon  geometry, 
algebra,  and  mathematical  astronomy.  He  exhorted 
his  disciples  and  friends  to  interest  themselves  in 
profane  sciences,  and  openly  expressed  his  convic- 
tion that  Judaism  would  be  the  gainer  from  such 
studies.  Only  his  scrupulous  piety,  his  immaculate 
conduct,  his  unselfishness,  and  his  renunciation  of 
every  office  and  position  of  honor,  saved  him  from 
the  charge  of  heresy  on  account  of  his  pursuing 
extra-Talmudical  branches  of  knowledge. 

Elijah  Wilna,  above  all,  implanted  a  good  spirit 
in   the  Lithuanian    lews.      He  taught  his  sons  and 

•  ^^ 

disciples  to  seek  simplicity  and  avoid  the  casuistry 
of  the  Polish  method.  In  Elijah  Wilna  the  beau- 
tiful Talmudical  saying  was  exemplified,  "He  who 
flees  from  honors  is  sought  out  by  them."  At  an 
early  age  he  was  recognized,  even  outside  of  Poland, 
as  an  authority  and  a  man  of  truth.  Yet  even 
Elijah  was  subject  to  the  delusion  that  the  hateful 

CH.   IX.  THE    CHASSID1M    ATTACKED.  39! 

Kabbala  was  a  true  daughter  of  Judaism,  and  con- 
tained true  elements.  He  deeply  lamented  the 
moral  ruin  wrought  by  the  Kabbala  among  Podol- 
ian  and  Galician  Jews,  through  the  rascally  Frank, 
who  had  driven  them  into  the  arms  of  the  Church, 
and  made  them  enemies  to  the  Synagogue  ;  yet  he 
could  not  free  himself  from  it.  Even  when  the 
danger  of  these  false  doctrines  was  brought  home 

«— *  <j 

to  him  by  the  rise  of  the  Chassidim,  and  he  was 
compelled  openly  to  oppose  them,  he  could  not 
relinquish  his  blind  fondness  for  the  Kabbala. 

The  neo-Chassidim,  or  Karlinians,  had  crept  into 
Wilna,  and  had  established  a  secret  "Stubel"  for 
their  noisy  conventicles.  A  trusty  friend  of  their 
leader,  and  an  emissary  sent  by  him,  had  stealthily 
introduced  their  cult  into  the  town,  and  won  over 
several  members  of  the  Wilna  community.  Their 
meetings,  their  proceedings,  and  their  derision  of 
the  Talmudists,  were  betrayed.  The  whole  congre- 
gation were  greatly  excited  at  this.  They  were 
indignant  that  the  Karlinians  impudently  asserted 
of  the  respected  Elijah  Wilna,  that,  like  his  occupa- 
tion and  his  belief,  his  life  was  a  lie.  The  ciders 
and  rabbis  forthwith  took  counsel.  The  Chassidic 
conventicles  were  straightway  attacked,  investiga- 
tions set  on  foot,  and  trials  instituted.  Writing's 
were  found  among  the  Chassidim,  which  contained 
the  principle  that  all  sadness  was  to  be  avoided, 
even  in  the  repentance  for  sins.  But  greatest  un- 
easiness was  aroused  by  the  alterations  in  the  lit- 
urgy and  the  disrespectful  utterances  against  the 
rabbis.  Elijah  Wilna,  who,  although  he  filled  no 
official  position,  was  always  invited  to  the  council 
meetings,  and  had  an  important  voice  in  its  decis- 
ions, took  a  very  serious  view  of  the  matter,  He 
beheld  in  the  Chassidic  aberration  a  continuation  <>i 
Frank's  excesses  and  corrupting  influence.  1  he 
otherwise  gentle  and  meek  man  became  a  veritable 
fanatic.  The  rabbis  and  the  chiefs  of  the  commu- 

392  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IX. 

nity,  together  with  Elijah  Wilna,  addressed  a  letter 
to  all  the  large  communities,  directing  them  to  keep 
a  sharp  eye  upon  the  Chassidim,  and  to  excommu- 
nicate them  until  they  abandoned  their  erroneous 
views.  Several  congregations  immediately  obeyed 
this  injunction.  In  Brody,  during  the  fair,  in  the 
presence  of  many  strangers,  the  ban  was  published 
against  all  those  who  prayed  noisily,  deviated  from 
the  German  synagogue  ritual,  wore  white  robes  on 
Sabbath  and  the  festivals,  and  were  guilty  of  other 
strange  customs  and  innovations.  Elijah  Wilna's 
circle  launched  a  vigorous  denunciatory  pamphlet 
against  the  offenders.  This  was  the  first  blow  that 
the  Chassidim  experienced.  In  addition,  their 
leader,  Beer  Mizricz,  died  in  the  same  year  (1772) — 
the  rabbis  imagined  in  consequence  of  the  excom- 
munication— and  thus  they  felt  themselves  utterly 
deserted.  Owing  to  the  weakness  of  the  king,  and 
the  greed  of  the  neighboring  nations,  the  kingdom 
of  Poland  was  dismembered.  Through  this  disor- 


ganization  the  union  of  the  Chassidim  was  broken, 
and  the  separated  members  became  dependent 
upon  the  legislature,  or  the  arbitrary  treatment,  of 
various  governments. 

However,  this  storm  did  not  crush  them  ;  they 
remained  firm,  and  did  not  display  the  slightest 
sign  of  submitting  to  their  opponents  (Mithnagdim). 
On  the  contrary,  the  struggle  made  them  more 
active  and  energetic.  They  were  not  deeply 
moved  by  the  ban  under  which  they  had  been 
placed ;  this  weapon,  blunted  since  the  contest  for 
and  against  Jonathan  Eibeschiitz,  could  no  longer 
inflict  wounds.  The  Chassidim,  grown  to  the  num- 
ber of  fifty  or  sixty  thousand,  formed  themselves 
into  small  groups,  each  with  a  leader,  called  Rebbe. 
Their  itinerant  preachers  encouraged  the  individual 
communities  to  persevere  in  their  tenets,  and  to 
accept  persecution  as  a  salutary  trial.  The  connec- 
tion of  the  groups  with  one  another  was  maintained 


in  this  way  ;  a  chief  from  the  family  of  Beer  Miz- 
ricz  was  placed  at  the  head  as  the  supreme  Zadclik, 
to  whom  the  various  Rebbe  were  subordinate,  and 
for  whose  use  they  were  to  set  aside  a  portion  of 
their  income.  The  possible  apostasy  of  members 
through  the  onslaughts  from  Wilna  was  met  by  the 
order  that  the  Chassidim  might  read  no  work  that 
had  not  received  the  approval  of  the  Chassidic 
authorities.  Obedience  towards  their  leaders  had 
taken  so  deep  a  root  in  the  minds  of  the  Chassi- 
dim that  they  never  transgressed  this  prohibition. 
Their  chiefs  distributed  among  them  the  sermons 
or  collections  of  sayings  supposed  to  have  been 
written  by  Israel  Baalshem,  or  Beer  Mizricz,  which 
emphasized  the  high  importance  of  the  Zaddik,  of 
the  Chassidic  life,  and  of  scorn  for  the  Talmudists— 
vile  writings,  which  were  nevertheless  read  with  ad- 
miration by  the  members,  who  were  kept  in  a  con- 
stant state  of  intoxication.  What  had  hitherto  been 
optional  and  individual  was  raised  by  these  writings 
to  the  rank  of  statutes  and  stringent  laws. 

After  Beer's  death,  two  men  chiefly  contributed 
to  the  exaltation  of  Chassidism,  one  through  his 
unbounded  enthusiasm,  the  other  by  his  scholarship. 
These  men,  neither  of  whom  is  open  to  suspicion, 
were  Israel  of  Kozieniza  (north  of  Radom)  and 
Salman  of  Liadi,  both  Beer's  disciples. 

So  strongr  did  the  Chassidim  aq-ain  become,  that 

o  <_>  , 

a  second  interdict  had  to  be  fulminated  against 
them.  This  time  also  the  persecution  originated  in 
Wilna,  and  was  instigated  by  Elijah  Wilna.  The 
Chassidim  were  declared  to  be  heretics,  with  whom 
no  pious  Jew  might  intermarry  (summer  of  1781). 
Two  messengers  were  sent  from  Wilna  to  the  Lith- 


uanian  congregations  to  induce  them  to  support  the 
ban.  In  consequence  of  this,  the  collections  of 
Chassidic  sermons  and  other  writings,  although  they 
contained  sentences  from  Holy  Writ,  were  publicly 
burnt  in  Brody  and  Cracow.  In  Selvia,  n<  ar 

394  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.   IX. 

Slonim,  during  the  fair,  in  the  presence  of  large 
numbers  of  Jews,  the  ban  was  publicly  promulgated 
against  the  Chassidim  and  their  writings  (August 
21,  1781);  but  these  obsolete  methods  were  of  little 
use.  In  the  Austrian  Polish  provinces  (Galicia) 
other  means  were  employed  by  the  disciples  of  the 
Mendelssohn  school  against  the  stultifying  system 
of  the  Chassidim.  The  decree  of  Joseph  II,  that 
schools  for  instruction  in  German  and  elementary 
subjects  be  established  in  all  Jewish  communities, 
encountered  vigorous  resistance  from  all  Jews, 
but  especially  from  Chassidim.  In  the  belief  that 
culture  would  improve  the  demoralized  and  bar- 
barous state  of  the  people,  a  small  body  of  men, 
Mendelssohn's  admirers,  strove  zealously  to  oppose 
them.  Among  the  most  ardent  workers  for  the 
enlightenment  of  the  Galician  Jews  was  Alexander 
Kaller.  Kaller  and  his  associates  probably  ob- 
tained a  decree  from  the  court  at  Vienna,  com- 
manding that  no  Chassidic  or  Kabbalistic  writings 
be  admitted  into  Galicia  (1785).  After  the  second 
partition  of  Poland,  denunciations  were  also  leveled 
against  the  Chassidim  in  Russian  Poland  as  dan- 
gerous to  the  state.  Salman  of  Liadi  was  dragged 
in  chains  to  St.  Petersburg.  Elijah  Wilna  is  said  to 
have  been  the  instigator  of  this  charge,  too  ;  indeed, 
he  persecuted  the  sect  as  long  as  he  lived.  After 
his  death  the  Chassidim  took  vengeance  upon  him 
by  dancing  upon  his  grave,  and  celebrating  the  day 
of  his  decease  as  a  holiday,  with  shouting  and 
drunkenness.  All  efforts  made  to  suppress  the 
Chassidim  were  in  vain,  because  in  a  measure  they 
represented  a  just  principle,  that  of  opposing  the 
excesses  of  Talmudism.  Before  the  end  of  the 
eighteenth  century  they  had  increased  to  100,000 
souls.  At  the  present  day  they  rule  in  congrega- 
tions where  they  were  formerly  persecuted,  and  they 
arc  spreading  on  all  sides. 



The  Progressionists— The  Gatherer  (Meassef)— David  Mendes- 
Moses  Ensheim— Wessely's  Mosaid— Marcus  Herz— Solomon 
Maimon— Culture  of  the  Berlin  Jews— Influence  of  French  Liter- 
ature—First Step  for  Raising-  the  Jews— The  Progressive  and 
Orthodox  Parties— The  Society  of  Friends— Friedlander  and 
Conversion — Depravity  of  Berlin  Jewesses — Henrietta  Herz— 
Humbolclt— Dorothea  Mendelssohn— Schlegel— Rachel— Schlei- 
ermacher — Chateaubriand. 

1786—1791  c.  E. 

The  state  of  the  German  Jews,  among  whom  the 
battle  against  unreason  began,  was  more  satisfac- 
tory than  that  of  the  Polish  Jews.  In  Germany 
youthful  activity  and  energy  asserted  themselves, 
an  impulse  to  action  that  promised  to  repair  in  a 
short  space  of  time  the  neglect  of  centuries.  Great 
enthusiasm  suddenly  sprang  up,  which  produced 
wonderful,  or  at  least  surprising,  results,  and  over- 
came the  benumbing  effects  of  apathy.  Young  men 
tore  the  scepter  from  the  grasp  of  the  aged,  and 
desired  to  preach  new  wisdom,  or  rather  to  reju- 
venate the  old  organism  of  Judaism  with  new  sap. 
The  synagogue  might  well  have  exclaimed,  "\Yh<> 
hath  begotten  me  these,  seeing  I  have  lost  my 
children,  and  am  desolate,  a  captive,  and  removing 
to  and  fro?  and  who  hath  brought  up  these?"  A 
new  spirit  had  come  upon  these  youths,  which,  in 
one  night,  put  an  end  to  their  isolation,  and  trans- 
formed them  into  organs  for  historical  reconstruc- 
tion. As  if  by  agreement  they  suddenly  closed  the 
ponderous  folios  of  the  Talmud,  turned  away  from 
it,  and  devoted  themselves  to  the  Bible,  the  eternal 
fount  of  youth.  Mendelssohn's  Pentateuch  trans- 
lation poured  out  a  new  spirit  over  them,  furnished 

396  HISTORY    OF    THE    JEWS.  CH.  X. 

them  with  a  new  language,  and  infused  new  poetry 
into  them.  Whence  this  body  of  spirited  young 
men?  What  had  hitherto  been  their  course  of  edu- 
cation ?  Why  were  they  so  powerfully  influenced? 
Suddenly  they  made  their  appearance,  prophesied  a 
new  future,  without  knowing  exactly  what  they  pro- 
phesied, and,  scarce  fledged,  soared  aloft.  From 
Poland  to  Alsace,  from  Italy  to  Amsterdam,  London, 
and  Copenhagen,  new  voices  were  heard,  singing  in 
harmonious  union.  Their  significance  lay  wholly  in 
their  harmony  ;  singly,  the  voices  appear  thin,  pip- 
ing, and  untrained  ;  only  when  united  do  they  give 
forth  a  pleasant  and  impressive  tone.  Those  who 
had  but  recently  learnt  to  appreciate  the  beauties  of 
Hebrew,  came  forward  as  teachers,  to  re-establish 
in  its  purity  a  language,  so  greatly  disfigured,  so 
generally  used,  and  so  continually  abused.  Inspired 
by  ideals  which  the  sage  of  Berlin  had  conjured  up, 
they  desired  to  pave  the  way  to  a  thorough  under- 
standing of  Holy  Writ,  to  acquire  a  taste  for  poetry, 
and  awaken  zeal  for  science.  Carried  away  by 
ardor,  they  ignored  the  difficulties  in  the  way  of  a 
people,  internally  and  externally  enslaved,  which 
seeks  to  raise  itself  to  the  heights  of  poetry  and 
philosophy,  and  therefore  they  succeeded  in  accom- 
plishing the  revival.  On  the  whole  they  achieved 
more  than  Mendelssohn,  their  admired  prototype, 
because  the  latter  was  too  cautious  to  take  a  step 
that  might  have  an  untoward  result.  But  these 
youths  pressed  boldly  forward,  for  they  had  no 
reputation  to  lose,  and  represented  no  interests 
that  could  be  compromised. 

This  result  was  produced  by  a  material  and  an 
ideal  circumstance.  Frederick's  eagerness  for 
money,  his  desire  to  enrich  the  land,  almost  com- 
pelled the  Jews,  especially  those  of  Berlin,  to  accu- 
mulate capital.  Owing  to  their  manufactories, 
speculations,  and  enormous  enterprises  on  the  one 
hand,  and  their  moderate  manner  of  living  on  the 


other,  the  first  Jewish  millionaires  arose  in  Berlin, 
and  by  their  side  many  houses  in  affluent  circum- 
stances. But  what  could  be  done  with  these  riches  ? 
To  the  nobility  and  the  court,  Jews  were  not  ad- 
mitted ;  the  Philistine  burghers  closed  their  doors 
against  these  Jewish  upstarts,  whom  they  regarded 
with  envy.  There  thus  remained  for  wealthy  Jews 
only  literary  intercourse,  for  which  they  have  always 
had  a  preference.  All  or  the  majority  had  in  their 
youth  made  the  acquaintance  of  the  Talmud,  and 
were  intimate  with  the  world  of  books.  This  cir- 
cumstance gave  their  efforts  an  ideal  character :  they 
did  not  worship  Mammon  alone ;  reading  in  their 
leisure  hours  was  a  necessity  to  them.  As  soon  as 
German  literature  had  been  naturalized  in  their 
midst  through  Mendelssohn,  they  included  it  in 
their  circle  of  studies,  either  with  the  serious  object 
of  cultivating  themselves  or  to  be  in  accord  with 
fashion.  In  this  matter  they  excelled  the  Christian 
citizens,  who  as  a  rule  did  not  care  for  books. 
Jewish  merchants,  manufacturers,  and  bankers  in- 
terested themselves  in  literary  productions,  as  if 
they  belonged  to  a  guild  of  learned  men,  using  for 
them  the  time  that  Christian  citizens  and  workmen 
passed  in  drinking. 

The  first  movement  was  made  in  Konigsberg,  a 
kind  of